Email – the omnipotent tool?
Do you know this feeling of drowning in your email inbox? Have you already started to use all kinds of survival techniques, such as marking your emails as unread or pushing them into countless folders? Then it is time to read this!
If you have already crossed your pain threshold concerning the pain induced by emails, you most probably have already had a look around the web for help. But have you encountered Merlin Mann on your quest for help? If not, you should definitely watch this:
What have we learned? Yes first of all, ways of keeping your inbox down to zero has mainly to do with advanced common sense. But sometimes stress, deadlines just the everyday office life keeps us from seeing the wood for the trees.
So, always remember:
- Email is a medium that get things from A to B
- Therefore don’t live in your emails, rather liberate what is in your emails and process your inbox down to zero
Find your 5 verbs, your 5 potential things you should be doing to your email, such as:
- delete things rather than storing them in your inbox
- delegate horizontally or vertically
- respond swiftly in a 1-2 liner
- defer if it is still an email-based task
- do it now
I think this is quite a big junk to chew on. But let’s take an even bigger bite and reflect a bit on our email behaviour. As with many things in life there are no premade solutions that suit all of us.
Let’s start with a short reflection on what we use emails for.
- Making appointments?
- Sharing working documents?
- Sharing pictures?
- Sharing resources such as links?
If you use emails for two or more of the above mentioned reasons, you might want to start thinking about alternatives that go easy on your email inbox. By thinking of alternatives, I don’t mean the development of rather creative survival mechanisms, such as the usage of out of office messages even though you are not away. This is only one of the consequences of overflowing email inboxes that was described in length by the BBC News Magazine in an article called “Out of office, or just out of time?”.
We just recently organized a brown bag lunch around our current email behaviour and the alternatives to email. However, time flew whilst pondering upon our email behaviour that we did not make it to the alternatives anymore. Here is what we had prepared: