2.11 It's Mail Time
Productivity hack no.27 from '60 Ways to Hurray! by Ralph Varcoe.
It’s like a badge of honour in offices all over the world.
“I got 200 emails yesterday’. “That’s nothing, I had 300!” Or whatever the number is. Maybe it makes people feel needed. Maybe it’s just a bit of harmless bragging.
Whatever it is, and however many you get a day, it’s important to be super-efficient with how you manage them.
If you’re getting a lot of emails every day they will be filling your inbox up at a fair old rate, like a bath filling with water. You could stand there with a little beach bucket while you’re also trying to do something that requires attention and effort like, for example, learn a foreign language while trying to intercept the water flowing into your bath, one bucket at a time. You then tip that bucket of water down the hand basin and go back to do it again while trying to concentrate on learning “Dónde está la farmacia¿”.
Or you could focus on learning the key Spanish phrases uninterrupted so you can find the pharmacy with that monster hangover while on holiday, and then, when you’ve finished that task, pull the plug out of the bath tub once you have some time to dedicate to the task of bath emptying.
It is so much more efficient to keep your emails together and schedule specific times of day to deal with them. You avoid the constant interruption and concentration switching costs of dealing with the constant stream. Schedule to deal with emails mid-morning, after you’ve completed the three most important tasks of the day (1.3). Then schedule again mid-afternoon, and lastly right before you switch off for the day.
If you schedule your emails and manage them in blocks you’ll be able to concentrate much better on the tasks that really matter, uninterrupted, and it will take up considerably less of your day than if you allowed yourself to give in to the constant, needy stream of stuff filling your inbox.
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