Incessant inbox checking is not actually “working”
Our inboxes are one of the major sources of distraction throughout the day. Whether we’re at our desks, in the car, at the gym, waiting for a train or find just a few moments to ourselves, email joins other culprits like social media, texting and mindlessly web surfing as some of America’s prime distractions. Here’s the thing though. Unlike watching the umpteenth funny cat video, email is kind of important. Note I said “kind of.”
Tim Ferriss’ book The 4-Hour Work Week was the first to bring this to my attention. While email and prompt responses are important, many of us (myself included) can spend countless hours in our inboxes, feeling as though we’re getting a ton done when really, we’re just siphoning through non-urgent communication.
Action is almost always better than inaction (though it comes down to prioritizing)
Then there are those other times when it seems that every message is important. That’s where Michael Hyatt and his awesome podcast This Is Your Life come in handy. Michael recently addressed the issue of email overload in one of his latest shows. He sets out a four-step game plan for conquering this never-ending beast that will take your stress level down a few notches. Michael recommends making it your goal to empty your inbox at the end of every day. To take action immediately when you come across an email that needs your attention or will only take a few minutes. Forwarding the email to someone else who can handle it is also an option.
Taking the bull by the horns will lower stress
Michael also recommends deferring those emails that do not require your immediate attention and cannot be done within a few minutes. This is where your ability to prioritize comes into effect. Finally, when (and you will!) you come across a useless email that doesn’t fit any of the above criteria, by all means, DELETE! So there you have it, do, delegate, defer, delete. Now hop to it!