Is Email Really a Productivity Tool?

Are you overwhelmed by your inbox? Physical or electronic, the issues are the same. What I often wonder is why anyone would waste their time checking their email WITHOUT a calendar close by?

I understand that in a management position, glancing at the subject headings of messages that you are copied on as they scroll by on your Blackberrry can be a useful way of monitoring your team or your operations, but that is not what I am talking about. I’m referring to the time spent reading and re-reading the same things every day when those things represent tasks.

Back in 1998 I wrote a book on this. Your inbox is not a task list. There are 3 things that arrive in your inbox and here is how you should respond:

1. FYI messages- monitor and stay informed.
2. Meetings requested by others – decide quickly, schedule and move on.
3. Meetings to schedule with yourself – This includes files to review, tasks to perform and anything else that you requires a decision (time to decide).

If your inbox is swollen it is likely because you have been too optimistic about the number of tasks you can perform within a given time frame, and have chosen to keep that task list close by. If the tasks are low priority you have left them there to sit in your inbox. Why not prioritize and decide “real time” as you read them?

If it is a task, schedule it; delegate it; or delete it. Stop reviewing them everyday for the rest of your life.

I hope this helps. 


About Wayne McKinnon

Wayne McKinnon works with organizations to change their course of evolutions from extinct to distinct
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