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Managing Email: Overflowing Inboxes - Articles Surfing
While keeping up with the daily paper flow in one's In-Box is a challenge for most businesses, the same situation is repeating itself in email In-Boxes. It is not unusual, during our time management training seminars and consultations, to hear that hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of email messages have collected in someone's inbox.
Each time you fail to make an immediate decision on what to do with a note, it becomes clutter, just as the stacks of paper that accumulate in our offices do. This clutter is not only physical clutter but mental clutter, distracting us from the immediate tasks at hand.
Consider two ways that these missives accumulate. Start by imagining you left a totally empty Inbox and that you receive 50 emails a day.
That's just one week. Every day you have to scroll through the entire list and try to figure out if there's something that needs to be done. Why not make a decision immediately on each email, moving it to the appropriate place for further action? It will eliminate that feeling of being overwhelmed as well as that sinking sensation of missing a deadline.
Just as I train people during seminars and one-on-one sessions to use a RAFT to navigate through the stacks of paper and keep from getting swamped, so will the RAFT method allow you to experience smooth sailing through your volumes of email.
My RAFT consists of four planks: READ -- ACT * FILE * TOSS. Every item, whether paper or electronic, goes into one of these categories. A decision is made immediately. You know where every paper goes, how to find it again, and when to follow up.
1. Casual reading: It would be good to have a chance to read it, but there's no deadline, and it doesn't relate to a current project. Have a casual reading folder set up that you can move this to and then periodically block a time in your schedule specifically for casual reading.
2. Reading with an accompanying action: Move it to your task list. If you're using an electronic task list, drag it over and attach a date to it. If you*re using a paper-based tickler system, print the mail and drop it into the appropriate date.
2. Reference Files: You want to retain the note for future reference, so you might print that and put it into your paper filing system, or save it in a related folder within 'My Documents'.
Everyone has heard of the adage, "Handle a piece of paper one time only." That shouldn*t be taken at face value. Instead you handle it only once as far as making a decision right away. Then you put it in the appropriate place to deal with at a specific time. Work your email the same way and cut down on daily stress.
Copyright © 1995 - Photius Coutsoukis (All Rights Reserved).
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