Is this you…?

  • I open an email, read the email, close it, possibly mark it unread, and possibly do that 2 or 3 further times before I actually action it …and I do that every 5 minutes!
  • My day is unstructured – I ‘interrupt myself’ by opening emails I don’t need to read here and now!
  • My ‘To Do’ list and the number of entries in my inbox just seem to grow and grow as the day goes on!

The use of email is now THE major communication tool in the business world, you can whizz a communication anywhere in the world in a matter of seconds. But, are you using email efficiently and effectively, or has it become a business hindrance, the metaphorical ‘elephant’ which has taken over your desk space/office but more importantly your brain space and is just getting in the way? If you answered ‘yes’ to one or more of the above questions (be honest!), all you are doing is feeding the elephant.

Ok, I agree, Elephants never forget, and the storing of email content can provide you with a very useful source of reference, an invaluable audit trail; but elephants are slow and cumbersome beasts, so a very important question – is it making you more, or less efficient? Also, sometimes things go wrong when using Email, e.g. you press the ‘Send’ button without taking a step back and thinking before sending! No-one likes clearing up elephant mess!

I have an idea for you – it might seem radical and not feasible, but based upon several years of practising what I preach, so from personal experience I can guarantee that this WILL make you more efficient and effective. Change the way you deal with your inbox, by only allowing yourself to access it 3 TIMES A DAY; YES, JUST 3 TIMES A DAY!

“I can’t do that!”, I hear you cry, “my boss and my customers need responses within minutes”, but ask yourself a question, how much time are you wasting moving between one email and the next in a random, unstructured fashion? You could be far more efficient and effective by focusing on the task in hand and then opening the electronic post when you have completed several tasks. All you are doing is jumping on the elephant’s back and going for a ride around the office – get some work done instead by NOT reacting to that email as soon as it arrives.

If you set the expectation of the sender to not have an instant reply, it works, I promise you, it does work. This will make you work through your emails in a far more productive manner and anybody who sends you emails will be amazed at your effectiveness – they will no longer have emails waiting for a response from you that previously were lost and forgotten in your email ‘mountain’.

Wouldn’t it be great to leave work today with an empty inbox and an organised way of working so that you leave work tomorrow with an empty inbox as well? Business utopia, or a realistic way of working? It’s both – say goodbye to the elephant!

Andy Hogg is one of the Microsoft Programme trainers for the Pitman Training Direct Centres. He is an IT Specialist with proven teaching and technical skills gained during the 24 years he has worked within the IT Industry. Andy brings a wealth of knowledge to The IT Trainer, combining a unique, friendly and focussed training style with the ability to recognise the skill levels of the students and to tailor the training to meet each student’s specific requirements.

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