I visited my nieces recently. The 4 year old likes to play dolls and was thrilled about having a new playmate around. However, it was ‘Play!’ every five minutes we weren’t actively engaged in playtime. No time for auntie to read a book or watch TV. No, it was all play all the time.
Email can be like that too. When you’ve got notifications on your phone or computer, every time you get a new email there’s a little ‘bing’ that goes off and demands your attention. No time for getting anything else done when you’ve got email tugging at your attention. Kind of like a toddler tugging at your pants.
So what should you do? Turn off your email notifications! Both on your phone and on the computer. Don’t let email dictate your life. Set aside specific times during the day to check email and use the rest of the time to focus on other work. It can take some time to get used to, but your productivity will thank you.
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Today was grocery shopping day. I’d made a list of meals we could have during the week, cross-referenced that with a list of things I needed to get at the store, and off I went. Having just moved, I’m in the gradual process of restocking things like baking essentials and condiments. I’m also in the process of testing out several different grocery stores, so it’s hard to remember what I’ve bought from where.
You would think having a grocery list to follow would eliminate any confusion about what I actually had in my cupboards but nope. Just like everyone else, there is the grocery list and then there is all the other things you pick up that you forgot you needed. Do I have the sliced cheese I need for BBQ sliders? Probably not, because I didn’t like the options at Kroger. Cooking oil for the brownies? I remember looking at it, but did I pick any up?
Our brains weren’t designed to hold everything in memory, and it’s easy to forget what you’ve done or didn’t do. Email is like that too. You’ll be in the middle of writing an email to a colleague when you suddenly wonder…did I send a follow-up email to that prospective client last week? Then it’s back to the inbox to search for their email. Or back into your sent items to scan and scan and scan to see if you can find the reply.
But instead of anxiety about not knowing if you’ve followed up or not, what if you could check your Waiting folder and quickly find out the status of your conversation? What if you had dealt with the prospective client email when it arrived? There’s an easier way to manage your email, and it’s through action folders and follow up folders.
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(For the record, I now have a lot of sliced cheese and still no cooking oil)