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Managing Email Before It Manages You

Email can take over your life.  There, I’ve said it!  But, it’s just little notes and messages, you say.  Yes, it’s just words, but it’s all coming at us at an alarming rate and it’s all mixed up together – the good, the bad, and the ugly.  As business people, we now depend upon email for all sorts of communication, and we certainly can’t afford to miss anything important.  So, how are we to manage our email before it manages us?  We’ll explore that very relevant question in this article.

First of all, if you think it’s simply a time management problem, you’d be wrong. It would be more accurate to say it’s an information management problem.  Information is rushing at us at such a rate that is almost not to be believed.  Some days, I feel like I’m standing in front of a fire hose with the power turned on full blast.  I’m conflicted – I love communicating by email because it’s so much faster than the telephone and I don’t have to chat.  But, I also feel that keeping up with it is actually keeping me from getting my work done.  Some studies have indicated that a whopping 40% of our workday is spent managing email.  That’s simply unacceptable!

So, what can we do?  Here are two tips.

  1. Reduce the sheer volume of email. – I came back from a conference earlier this year, and made a radical decision.  I had not even been able to get away for a training event without worrying about the mountain of email piling up.  When I boarded the plane to go home, I turned my cell phone into “Flight Mode” and reviewed all the emails that had downloaded onto my Blackberry.  I had several hours of time, so I made a little handmade spreadsheet and was able to determine that I simply had to let some of this stuff go – even the stuff I enjoyed.  When I got home, I unsubscribed from about 35 info-websites that had been sending me “stuff” on a regular basis.  Since then, I think I’ve even cut it down more.  No, I may not know what the sales are at Costco and Sears, and I may not have coupons readily available for the local grocery store, but at least I don’t have to think about it anymore.
  1. Save Your “Main” Email Address for Business Only – If you have a domain email address such as JohnDoe@MyCompany.com, use that for business only.  Get another email for personal use.  I recommend Gmail over all the others, such as Hotmail or Yahoo, or AOL. There are several reasons, which are beyond the scope of this article, so you can do your own research if you want, or just trust me on this – Gmail is the way to go.  I also have a separate email address just for my internet marketing research, such as when I sign up or “opt-in” for a special report or an eBook to get more information.  I used to clutter up my main business email account, but after I realized my email life had become unmanageable, I separated my life into three email accounts.

These are just two of the ways that you can begin to manage your email.  I will write again on this topic, so stay tuned.

Thank you for reading.