This week’s theme is better time management for writers. I’ve invited productivity columnist Jessie Haynes to tell us how to kick email addiction. Since picking up email once…per minute…is a real problem for me, I was anxious to get these tips!
Organized, Productive Email Time Management Domination That Works…Now!
By Jessie Haynes
Email is the source of stress and sorrow, so many freelancers say. TryÂ this step-by-step overhaul of your current email practices and see ifÂ you can’t ease those woes.
1. Organize your email by function – as you read top to bottom (and youÂ cannot skip anything in this process because you read each email onceÂ and once only as you process) and either move it to a folder thatÂ corresponds to that function or archive or delete the message and make aÂ note in your task manager / planner / to-do list.
Functions could include:
-waiting – all of the things that require another action / event beforeÂ you can do something about them. Tip: write down just what you’reÂ waiting for in some note because you should rely on your brain for veryÂ little beyond thinking of something once and remembering where yourÂ reminder is.
– and you get the point! Remember that no function means no reason toÂ have the email: to the trash.
Sort through those emails in your inbox by what you need to do withÂ them. After you’ve done this once, you should have everything sorted forÂ future function-processing. Having your needs fulfilled for later inboxÂ processing brings us to the next step in email time managementÂ domination…
2. Half your current email checking frequency, at least. Schedule yourÂ “processing and doing” sessions. Tip: you can always process immediatelyÂ after a “do” (like when you get new emails as you’re sorting throughÂ what you have already) but you can never go to “do” while processing.
I say to strive to check your email only once per 24-hour period, butÂ this is terrifying to most freelance writers. Because of how much timeÂ most freelancers are spending swimming in their email, this seems like aÂ logical allotment. Theoretically, anyone properly processing and doingÂ their inbox functions could check their email as much as would allowÂ them to complete their tasks. Regular, proper processing means you canÂ find your own balance. My once per 24-hour period rule may or may notÂ make you more effective: find out for yourself just what will work forÂ you.
3. Deliver the right amount of energy per message. Spending too littleÂ effort in a response backfires like dominoes with an email train messierÂ than that simile, and too much effort just wastes your time. BeÂ conscious of how much effort you expend.
4. Divorce immediacy and think like a business owner. You are yourÂ CEO–and janitor as Carol likes to say–of your own business and youÂ don’t scurry forth at the whims and beckons of others. Organize yourÂ tasks and get to them as you sort them–conquer fuction by functionÂ after you’ve had time to sort them. Work on your own decided urgency. AÂ business owner’s time is valuable. It is also just that, the businessÂ owner’s time and not anyone else’s.
5. Find your best practices. Telling you exactly how I manage my emailÂ won’t really do much for you–mileage varies. Your own trial and errorÂ alongside attentiveness, observation and flexibility will help youÂ discover your ideal email policy.
Please, leave feedback. If you want some advice on your email situation,Â leave a comment and I’ll respond as soon as I can!
About the Author: Jessie Haynes owns JHaynesWriter, Web writing servicesÂ for the organization and productivity niche.Â