In a recent Manager Tools podcast – my favorite podcast – Mike and Mark revisited, here and here, the discussion of how to effectively manage your email by only working it three times a day. First thing in the morning, after lunch, and before the end of the day.
I started using the Manager Tools method when I first started at my current employer in 2008 but since then, I’ve gotten very sloppy and completely away from their recommendation of only working on email three times a day. Its partly culture as I regularly have people send me an email and then visit or call me a half hour or so later asking me about it. I got to the point where I was checking my email every few minutes and responding to some and leaving others in my inbox to deal with later. I did create and continued to maintain a decent folder and filing system and kept my inbox down to a consistent few dozen emails at all times.
After listening to the recent Manager Tools email update, I was inspired to try it again and have found it very effective in being able to stay focused on my tasks and get them done much quicker and with much better quality. I also have a lot of satisfaction in forcing myself to take action on each email that comes through by either deleting, forwarding to admin for action, responding, creating a calendar action, or filing for future reference. I also now tell those who come visit or call shortly after sending an email that I do my email three times a day and will get to it then, unless the reason they are following up so soon is an urgent matter.
Thank you to Manager Tools for revisiting how to manage email. It has helped boost my productivity and made me more effective as I tackle the increased workload I’m experiencing.