Now Do an Email Sprint With Me

Here’s another good technique: email sprints. Take a clicker* and use it to keep track while sending out ten QUICK emails in rapid succession. I love doing email sprints. You can fit them easily in between other tasks and they clear out your inbox like nothing else. Sprinting also gives you a wonderful little productivity “lift” and helps you practice the valuable skill of sending terse emails. Here are some good quickies to send: A thank you. A check in with a professional or personal contact. A reply to a scheduling email. A reply to a question. The key, as mentioned above, is “terse.” No more than three sentences in each mail, and bonus points if you can get one down to a few words, as in: “Yes-thanks!” or “Not a good fit--sorry!” or, “7 pm OK?” or, “Thought you’d like to see this!” Now, of course it’s possible to get too terse—but making that mistake occasionally is far better than overdoing all the dozens, or hundreds, of emails you’re receiving every week. Like most productivity … [Read more...]

Why Email Overload is an Overgiving Problem

Email overload can be regarded as an overgiving problem. Sure, you get too many emails each day, and they take too long to answer. If you’re like many people, however,  you’re reluctant to face the problem by: (1) leaving some (or many) emails unanswered, and (2) answering most of the remaining ones tersely. (Many people write multi-paragraph emails when a simple “Sorry – can’t do it.” or “Great!” or “See you at 8!” will do.) This isn’t all your fault! Here are some factors that make email so tricky: We get a lot of emails. If you get just twenty a day and spent just three extra minutes on each one, that’s an hour lost each day! When you’re flooded with emails you’ve got to be super-efficient in dealing with them or they’ll bury you. Email occupies a weird middle terrain between the formality and permanence of written communication and the informality and impermanence of spoken communication. You’re getting many different types of emails thrown at you. That makes it harder to deal with them … [Read more...]