Earlier in the week I presented a webinar for B2B Marketing Magazine on the subject of becoming more efficient with email and indeed with work in general. You can find the full slide set here
My talk focused on 3 key areas:
Approach to work. In our hyper-connected world it’s so easy to become overwhelmed by stuff and lose control. It’s not better time management we need, it’s better attention management – we can’t do everything and need to have a systematic approach to how we choose to focus our attention.
Email management. Like it or loathe it, much of our business communication centres around email. But an ever growing inbox is a common source of significant stress. Fortunately there are some simple techniques one can use to ensure you maintain control over your email rather than the other way around.
Email alternatives. Much of the problem with our current use of email is that we use it for the wrong things. Task lists, project management, collaboration, broadcast communications, etc are all better handled through other approaches such as collaboration platforms and list managers.
Here’s some top tips that I use to maintain control:
- Audit how you spend your day. Simply documenting how you spend your day will help you focus on whether you’re spending it on the things you should be.
- Get yourself a trusted systematic approach to managing your work. I use GTD – others are available.
- Book time in your calendar to get work done. Stop being distracted by other people’s priorities. If you have something on your agenda, put it on your agenda!
- Disconnect once in a while. Stop surfing and looking for distractions – focus on the single thing you want to accomplish right now.
- Go work in a coffee shop. Changing your environment for a while can have a major impact on your productivity
- Process your email, don’t live in it. Change your relationship with your inbox. You simply go there on your terms to decide what needs to be done with each mail – delete, action, file, read, delegate. Then get out and close it down.
- Filter your email. Much of your email you regularly file, delete or forward – so get some help to do this for you automatically.
- Turn off notifications. You’ve go important work to do – you’ll get to your email when you’re good and ready.
- Minimise use of folders. Your email already has a search facility – there’s no need to manually file mail in multiple nested folders. It simply creates additional unproductive decisions for you to make.
- Write shorter emails. Is it clear what the recipient needs to do? Does the subject line make it clear what’s required? You know how your heart sinks when you receive that 2 page email – don’t do it to others!
- Don’t copy the world. Think before using reply all – it will actually make it less likely that anyone will feel ownership if you put multiple recipients. Copying too many people usually indicates that you’re probably using the wrong tool
There’s plenty of links here that expand on these ideas with tools and helpful videos.