Join Dave Crenshaw for an in-depth discussion in this video Processing email vs. checking email, part of Time Management Fundamentals.
- At this point you should have spent at least one hour processing your email to build mental muscle memory. If after processing email for an hour you still have many unprocessed emails, you're going to need to schedule extra time for processing the backlog. Remember, during processing time your goal is to bring your email inbox to zero, empty, at least once per week. We may need to do a little catch-up first though. Typically, by scheduling one hour per 100 unprocessed emails you can gradually chip away of 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. Incidentally, if you have over 1,000 emails in your inbox I first recommend that you take everything older than two months and just archive them first, before scheduling your extra email processing time.
That will make this a bit more manageable for you. In Gmail you can find those emails by searching for Before: full year/month/day. For instance, Before: 2015/12/01. Then select All, then select All messages that match this search, then click Archive. Right now go ahead and schedule some time to process the backlog of email, one hour per 100 of your inbox items.
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 arrive in your inbox inbetween 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 slightly different. It's just looking at your email and deciding if there's anything that needs to be dealt with right now and can't wait until your scheduled processing time.
I'll show you on the screen what I mean. Let's say it's been a few hours since I've processed and I have accumulated new email. I want to have a regularly scheduled time to check my email, maybe 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 scheduled 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 scheduled 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 the email. In brief, it's okay to check email and it's okay to process email that's urgent and cannot wait until my regularly scheduled processing time.
However, be careful not to check email continually, or you'll fall back into a very inefficient habit of switch-tasking. 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. The schedule depends a great deal on your job description and what industry you're in. If you're having a hard time coming up with the checking schedule that will work, I would say three times a day: beginning of the day, middle of the day and end of the day.
Schedule only about 15 minutes per checking time. This 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. Please take a moment now and choose an email checking schedule that makes sense for you.
Learn how to get more done in the shortest time possible and avoid the obstacles and distractions that can get in the way of good time management. Dave gives practical strategies for increasing productivity in three main areas: developing habits to be more organized and reducing clutter in your workspace; staying mentally on task and eliminate the to-dos you have floating in your head; and developing a time budget to get the most done during your workday and focus on your most valuable activities.
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- Finding your productivity style and motivation
- Understanding the principles of time management
- Avoiding the pitfalls of multitasking
- Narrowing your gathering points
- Consolidating email and voicemail accounts
- Practicing mind-clearing techniques
- Choosing and using calendar software
- Saying no with tact
- Mastering the what, when, where processing system
- Processing email vs. checking email
- Maintaining productivity gains