Don’t Get Nailed By E-mail!

Getting nailed by e-mail looks like the following things:

1) Have an e-mail exchange that would have served you better via phone or in person so you could get those extra cues we need as human beings, i.e. voice, body language, pauses, etc.
2) Frittering a whole morning of time away in a trail of not very important e-mails that could have been answered during your “no brain capacity needed” times of the day instead (you know the 4p.m. late day crash that most of us experience).
3) A silly but substantive mistake (i.e. sending reply all, including someone else by mistake) because you were in a rush, didn’t pay attention, or in the glaze of “the virtual vortex” that we all deal with.
Lastly, it takes 64 seconds to re- calibrate the brain after it’s been interrupted by an e-mail, not even time to answer or read the e-mail. Bottom line, 8.3 hours per week of productivity are lost in the process. Wouldn’t you like an extra one day of week to move forward towards your dreams? Books have been written in less time than that per week, over an extended period of time.
So given the fact that e-mail and smartphones are not going anywhere because they do serve important functions in our evolving world, how do you navigate the virtual communication tools of this decade so you don’t get nailed by e-mail? Here are ones that I’ve found to be useful to both myself and my clients:

1)    Do your most important task first WITHOUT E-MAIL.

2)    Buy a timer and set it for 15 minutes and ask yourself the exact intention for this e-mail session. For example, using a session to maintain high priority relationships, catch up with a few seemingly lost friendships that you miss, or connecting with a few clients are all legitimate needs. The more specific you are what you want to use that time for, the less chance you will fall prey to the perils of e-mail. When the timer goes off, switch activities to higher priority or get real, saying out loud, “I am now giving another 15 minutes to e-mail,” and reset the timer so you aren’t in shock when your whole day has flitted by and you don’t know why “I didn’t get anything done.”

3)    Use your friend connection time as part of a reward and again time it accordingly (yes and I do mean with a timer).

4)    After two to three rounds of back and forth with a particular person, it would most likely be best handled by a 5 minute conversation. Disengage and actually use this archaic communication tool called the phone to make an appointment for after work to speak (if it’s not an urgent work related matter).

5)    Whenever possible, use your crash and burn low blood sugar time of the day to take a break and answer your e-mails. You wouldn’t have the mental bandwidth to be tackling your more high priority or learning curve items during that time anyway, so even if you go a little unconscious you will not have had a great loss.

6)    Whenever possible make a date to speak with someone rather than e-mail unless they are long-winded and you have a hard time getting off the phone, it can get handled more effectively in an e-mail, or you know the person IS NOT a phone person.

7)    See e-mail and social media as a supplement not a foundational part of your creating community.

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