Have you decided when you will address your email?

Do you allow email to arrive as an interruption or attend to it on an ad hoc basis?

If we want to master email, we need to control WHEN we’re looking at email and when we’re not, rather than allowing it as a constant stream. It’s critical to stay focused on the task we are doing without distraction and then take dedicated time to attend to the email. We should single-task each of these activities rather than trying to multi-task them both at the same time.

Over the years, I have found that it is critical to schedule specific times each day to address email, just as we do for meetings and phone appointments/teleconferences. In fact, I would go so far as to say that we should block out specific times in our calendar for addressing email.

How often we do this and at what times of the day varies for different people in different roles. The more responsive your role, the more often you check the inbox and the shorter the gap between those times.

Most people don’t understand why they should book email times into their calendar, so I ask them if they book meetings into their calendar. Of course they do. And what is a meeting? It’s a conversation between one or more other people. And do you also put a phone appointment or a tele-conference into your calendar? Yes, of course. And isn't this also a conversation between one or more other people?

And what is email? Of course, it too is a conversation between one or more other people. But we tend to not book time for these in our calendar and so we have very little control over them.

Why not try blocking time for email in your calendar this week and see what difference it makes for you over the next few days.

All the best!

Steuart Snooks