Are you managing your emails or are your emails managing you?

After a morning of being away from emails and you return to an inbox loaded up with 50 emails, what do you do?

Are you:

The beaver—You see the email mountain and know the only appropriate thing to do is to attack it diligently and completely. As a busy little guy, you do not return calls, address other work or leave your monitor until every email has been dealt with.

The ostrich—You turn off your notifications so you can’t hear the constant ding! ding! as each email drops into the inbox. Because it is so overwhelming, you avoid looking at your inbox and plow through your other work.

The spider—You carefully work from project to email to voice mail to project to meeting to email. As each “fly” becomes caught in your email inbox, you address it right away. Your contacts have become trained to know you respond to emails immediately because you are in the corner waiting for a new “fly” or email to come. You have access to email everywhere—on your PC, on your tablet and on your phone.

Here is a new way of remaining responsible about your email without allowing it to control your day.

  • Turn off any social media site notifications. Those emails will only crush your spirit and send you into a tailspin of events to which you have no reason to respond and will only crowd your brain.
  • Unsubscribe from sales or drip emails from companies where you have done business. Whittle it down to the most important ones or those that affect your life in the most profound ways.
  • Set up filters to sidetrack any FWD: emails. Again, more clutter you do not need.
  • Anticipate responses and write emails that do not spawn other emails. For example, if you write a colleague about a meeting, rather than write: Want to meet about X this week? Instead, write: Let’s meet about X this week. I am available MTW at 10 am, noon and 3pm. Which works best for you? Rather than five emails back and forth, this reduces it to two or three.
  • Establish set times to review email and make it known to your colleagues in your signature.
  • Turn off your notifications on your phone for email.
  • Don’t respond to work emails after work hours. When you do so, you are sending an unintended message that you are always ON.

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