Let’s face it — we’re all addicted to email.
If you want to get stuff done, turn off your email. Close your social media feeds and web browser too. You’ll be amazed at what you get done without the biochemical surge of ping, tweet, ping!
How many of you start your day lost in your email inbox, answering everybody else’s wants, needs, and requests?
Versus staying focused on the one thing that will grow or advance your business today?
“The inbox is nothing more than a convenient filing system for other people’s agendas.” – Brendan Bruchard
I know the feeling. I used to spend houuuuuurs on email everyday.
While it felt like drudgery, I was actually addicted to the dopamine drip response. You know, oooh, I wonder who just sent me a message? Does anyone love me?
That same addictive loop exists on social media too. Now I batch my email (i.e. small concentrated bursts). Rest of the time, email is turned off. Admittedly, it’s still a work in progress.
I try not to read email first thing in the morning, or right before going to bed. I’m taking control of my mental environment. And you can too.
Here’s a few ways to tame the email monster:
1. Stop using your inbox as a todo list – you often keep emails around cause you’re afraid you’re going to forget something (to follow-up with someone or to complete a task). Move tasks to your project management/todo system. We use the free tool Asana.com. Also install the Boomerang Plug-in. This allows you set a reminder on any email you send to circle back in your inbox after a certain period (1-day, 4-days, 1 week, etc…). A great tool for letting go.
2. Archive your emails – If you’ve got 12,432 emails in your inbox, it’s time to “let the bits go” as Mark Hurst teaches (Check out his great book Bit Literacy). In Gmail, there is a very prominent ARCHIVE button in your inbox dashboard. All archived emails are still searchable — without clogging up your inbox. This one act will lighten your psychic load considerably. My buddy Blake tells me this one shift totally rocked his world.
3. Unsubscribe from ALL newsletters – All non-business related communications should not hit your main email inbox. This creates anxiety, overwhelm and distraction. Either update your subscription settings so they go to a different email address (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org), setup a filter to send all newsletters directly to a separate folder, or just go on a media diet (unsubscribe from ALL email lists that make you feel inadequate).
4. Use a social intelligence tool – Rapportive is a free plugin for Gmail and Google Apps that provides you with instant social links on every contact that hits your email inbox. Imagine to the right of your email from Bettie “Million Dollar Prospect” Beetlejuice is a picture of Bettie, her job title, her LinkedIn profile, Facebook page, and Twitter feed — all with one click subscribe options. You’ll save yourself countless hours trying to sync up to make sure the contacts you care about most are in your social feeds. Plus a quick glance at a prospects social feed and you learn all sorts of things about them. More than once this had led to new opportunities for me.
5. Take an “Email Vacation” – All else fails, take a few days away from email. This recent research study by the University of California, Irvine, shows that people who do not look at e-mail on a regular basis at work are less stressed and more productive. You’ll just need a colleague to monitor your inbox for important emails.
While I’m still chasing the dragon trying to reach “inbox zero”, I’ve created a lot less stress by transforming my relationship to email. For more strategies and tips, check out inboxzero.com.
What’s your Email Productivity Tip?
Add your suggestion in the comments below. We’d love to hear how you battle the monster of email mania.