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Email Time Management — Lessons to Avoid Time Vaporizing Into Thin Air

For years, I had a quote taped to my bookcase in my office that I’d once cut out of a magazine. It said, ¨If you don’t make time for yourself, no one else will do it for you.¨

I have no idea who said it – but I kept it there as inspiration…especially considering I regularly put in very long days. Time management, work-life balance, the addiction of checking and responding to our emails constantly, all seem to be areas I struggle with. And apparently I’m not the only one.

Regarding Email

When I first entered the work world, I recall that it was pretty much common business practice, and considered quite timely, if we responded to a written request within a 3-5 day period.

Today, the immediacy of emails means that people expect answers right away. And, if you’re not able to answer within a few days, it’s expected that you at least write back to say that you’ve got the request, and indicate when you will be able to respond with an answer.

Only thing is, with our inboxes flooded each day with requests, information, reports, and so on, it’s easy to receive upwards of 75 or more emails on an average day in the office, not counting newsletters, Google alerts and other business subscriptions you’ve signed up for. A time drain, if I ever saw one.

And one that often kept me from getting to the real projects at hand…thus adding needless hours to my already long days at work. (And while I virtually never missed a deadline in over 20 years, perhaps the never-ending demands of email explain, in part, why I routinely put in 12-hour days, and never felt as if my work was ever ¨done¨.)

One of the Best Bits of Advice…

One of the best bits of advice that I read a few years back was to avoid doing email altogether for the first hour of work. Use the time instead to attack an actual project. That way you don’t get sucked into the black hole of email madness, and can leave work knowing you’ve accomplished at least one important thing that needed to get done, that day.

Of course, there are many self-help gurus, noted authors, as well as forums and blogs on the topic of time management. I came upon one this morning, that prompted me to write this entry, and that I’ll share with you. It recaps several authors’ strategies (including the one mentioned above), and provides several helpful links.

The article is titled, ¨What Successful People Do with the First Hour of Their Workday¨, By Kevin Purdy, and it appeared in the August 22, 2012 blog titled ¨Fast Company¨.

Incidentally, I’d never heard of Fast Company – and checked that out too.  Apparently it’s a leading magazine (print and online) with paid subscriptions, but notably several free newsletters offering thought leadership in design, creativity and changes that will affect how we will live 100 years from now.

Not that I really need any more newsletter subscriptions, but these just offered so many thought-provoking articles, that I’ve signed up. I’m sure that when I find a full-time job, reading many of these newsletters will, unfortunately, fall by the wayside. Still, for now, they’re interesting, and you may want to check them out at this Fast Company link.

¨Back to the Future¨

In my upcoming blogs, I plan on outlining some of my other email etiquette tips to help save time for you and the people you write to, as well as provide a few secrets to organizing projects to ensure deadlines are met and projects stay on schedule.  Meantime, do you have any time management tips you’d care to share?

2 comments on “Email Time Management — Lessons to Avoid Time Vaporizing Into Thin Air

  1. Stephanie (Bennis) Shirley
    September 20, 2012

    I can’t imagine waiting for an email response for 3-5 days! In my line of work I have to constantly check and respond to emails. Even on the weekends, I find it hard to completely cut-off. But I do see the value in doing so and I’ve become better at making time for myself. Like you said, if you don’t–no one else will!

    • suzykedz
      September 20, 2012

      Hi Stephanie – Exactly – in most cases, it’s really not appropriate to wait 3-5 days to respond to Emails! That was my point. I was referring to the old days when mail still arrived by snail mail. BTW – you’ve got a great blog/website going. Looking forward to reading more from you.

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This entry was posted on September 16, 2012 by in Business and tagged , , , .
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