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Processing email vs. checking email

From: Time Management Fundamentals

Video: Processing email vs. checking email

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.

Processing email vs. checking email

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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This video is part of

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Time Management Fundamentals

52 video lessons · 63665 viewers

Dave Crenshaw
Author

 
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  1. 3m 31s
    1. Welcome
      51s
    2. Getting the most from this course
      2m 4s
    3. Using the handouts and exercise files
      36s
  2. 3m 35s
    1. Making a lasting change
      1m 44s
    2. Finding your personal motivation
      1m 51s
  3. 6m 16s
    1. Addressing the myth of multitasking
      3m 12s
    2. Understanding the consequences of multitasking
      3m 4s
  4. 7m 48s
    1. Understanding principle 1: Space
      2m 46s
    2. Understanding principle 2: Mind
      1m 47s
    3. Understanding principle 3: Time
      3m 15s
  5. 26m 17s
    1. Taking inventory of your gathering points
      2m 37s
    2. Narrowing your gathering points
      3m 46s
    3. Setting up an inbox gathering point
      2m 23s
    4. Working with a portable inbox
      2m 49s
    5. Getting the most from a notepad
      2m 35s
    6. Consolidating multiple email accounts
      2m 34s
    7. Consolidating multiple voicemail accounts
      2m 56s
    8. Establishing a wild card gathering point
      2m 47s
    9. Separating work and personal gathering points
      2m 21s
    10. Taking the next step toward controlling your space
      1m 29s
  6. 11m 24s
    1. Selecting your mind clearing options
      5m 13s
    2. Clearing your mind using mental triggers
      3m 23s
    3. Setting a mind-clearing schedule
      1m 54s
    4. Taking the next step toward keeping your mind clear
      54s
  7. 14m 2s
    1. Choosing the right calendar for you
      4m 4s
    2. Using your calendar effectively
      3m 55s
    3. Saying no to others
      3m 5s
    4. Saying no to yourself
      2m 58s
  8. 4m 21s
    1. Preparing for action
      4m 21s
  9. 14m 12s
    1. Preparing to gather
      2m 40s
    2. Gathering to your inbox: At your desk
      6m 30s
    3. Gathering to your inbox: Elsewhere
      3m 49s
    4. Dealing with full inboxes
      1m 13s
  10. 31m 2s
    1. Mastering the "what, when, where" processing system
      3m 11s
    2. Processing question 1: What is the next step?
      3m 22s
    3. Processing question 2: When will it be done?
      4m 33s
    4. Processing question 3: Where is its home?
      3m 49s
    5. Filing made simple
      4m 4s
    6. Processing your first inbox
      7m 27s
    7. Setting your processing schedule
      4m 36s
  11. 18m 31s
    1. Applying "what, when, where" processing to email
      1m 53s
    2. Setting up an email resource folder
      2m 58s
    3. Creating email rules or filters
      4m 14s
    4. Processing email
      5m 8s
    5. Processing email vs. checking email
      4m 18s
  12. 18m 1s
    1. Understanding "you time" vs. "work time"
      4m 9s
    2. Establishing "most valuable activities"
      2m 44s
    3. Identifying your most valuable activities
      3m 39s
    4. Budgeting time for your most valuable activities
      4m 11s
    5. Using your time budgeter
      3m 18s
  13. 1m 38s
    1. Maintaining your productivity gains
      1m 38s
  14. 3m 0s
    1. Dave Crenshaw on getting himself organized
      3m 0s

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