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Effective time management is an indispensable skill. In Time Management Fundamentals, Dave Crenshaw explains how to sensibly allocate time in order to achieve greater productivity. Dave details a set of principles for staying organized, consolidating the workspace, keeping a clear mind, and developing a time budget. Also covered are techniques for managing a full inbox, processing email, and reserving time for the most important activities. Exercise files accompany the course.
At this point, you should have spent at least one hour processing your email to develop a habit. If you find yourself still with many unprocessed emails, you're going to need to schedule extra time for processing. Typically, by scheduling one hour per 100 unprocessed emails, you can gradually chip away at the pile. So if you have 500 emails in your inbox, you probably need to schedule an extra five hours of email processing. It might take you less than that time, but it's always better to overestimate how long things take.
If you have over 1,000 emails in your Inbox, I first recommend that you take everything older than two months, and just drag and drop them to your resource folder first, before scheduling your extra email processing time. That will make this manageable for you. Remember, during the processing time your goal is to bring your email inbox to zero, empty. Right now, go ahead and schedule some time to process the backlog of email, pause this video, and then after you do that, come back.
Before I wrap up the training on email, I want to make a comment about processing email versus checking email. At this point in the training, you should have already established a regular processing time, starting at five hours per week, and you should have that time set up in your schedule. This should be enough for most people to bring all their gathering points to zero, using the "what, when, where" processing system. But what about the emails that comes in between your scheduled processing? What if you feel you need to check your email more often? Processing email is the act of deciding what is the next step, when will it be done, and where is its home.
Checking email is different. It's just looking at your email and deciding if there's anything that needs to be dealt with right now. I will show you on the screen what I mean. Let's say that it's been a few hours since I've processed, or it's been a day or two since I have processed, and I have accumulated a lot of email. I want to have a regularly scheduled time to check my email, maybe for 15 minutes two times a day at noon and at 4 o'clock. During this checking time, I'm going to just simply scan through the emails and ask myself one question: can this wait until my scheduled processing time? If it can wait until my schedule processing time, I'm going to leave it alone.
I look at this one. Can it wait until my scheduled processing time? Yes. But this next email, can it wait until my schedule processing time? No. If I have one like that, then I immediately go into processing that email. What's the next step? When will it be done, and where is its home? I process that email. In brief, it's okay to check email, and it's okay to process email that's urgent when it needs to be dealt with immediately.
But don't check email continually, or you will fall back into a very inefficient habit of switchtasking. Instead of leaving your email window open all day long, have a regularly scheduled time to check your email. The specific times and frequency don't matter, just as long as it's scheduled. There is no hard and fast rule about when is the right time for everyone. It depends a great deal on what your job description is and what industry you're in. So take a moment right now and choose an email-checking schedule that makes sense for you.
If you're having a hard time coming up with a checking schedule that would work, I would say three times a day: beginning of the day, middle of the day, end of the day. Give yourself only about 15 minutes per checking time. That will force you to deal with only the urgent issues--only the ones that need to be dealt with today--and get you in the habit of putting off anything else until your regularly scheduled processing time.
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