Like many people, I get way too much email. You probably do, too. Until recently, I didn’t have a good system for dealing with my inbox volume, which was nearly 500 messages per day. That’s nearly one every waking minute!
I’ve tried in the past to use the “batching” technique and only check emails every so often, but I found that this just leads to email procrastination, while important messages go unanswered (for further thoughts on my attempts to prioritize email, read “The Urgent vs. Important Matrix”).
A CEO friend of mine emailed recently asking for my best tips for dealing with too much email, and below are the tips I shared with him. I continue to struggle with email overload, but here are a few things that have worked for me to lighten the load a bit.
Push as much to the phone as possible
I know this is counter-intutitive, but when you’re drowning in email, it helps. I train all my employees and folks I work with outside the company that if you can wait 1-2 days for a response or it’s just an FYI, email is OK. Anything more urgent than that should be communicated by phone.
This way, there’s nothing urgent in your inbox and you can put it aside to get work done. Urgent things interrupt you with a ringing phone and you can deal with them. You’ll also find that people tend to solve their own problems when they know that they’d have to speak to the boss live (oh the horror) instead of just dropping an email. This is probably my best hack for dealing with too much email.