Email Overload: How to Get Fewer Emails and Be More Productive

By Alzay Calhoun

Edited Video Transcript:

When you wake up, you check your email. Before you start work, you check your email. Before you go to bed, you check your email. Wait. Are you chief email checker, or do you actually run a business?

Hey, it’s Alzay Calhoun with Coveted Consultant. This video series is all about giving leaders better tools so you can build the best in class company you envision. The truth is that you’ll never build that best in class company if you’re chasing tasks all day long. This whole series is about your transition from chief firefighter into chief executive.

 

Too many emails?

Get organized with the tools in this resource guide

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Specifically, today, we’re talking about this challenge of the email inbox, and how it can drive your entire day. It’s the first thing you do when you wake up, it’s the first thing you do when you start work, and it’s the last thing you do before you go to bed. If that’s your rhythm, then you’re not running your business, because email is driving you. We’ve got to get some better behaviors about this. First, let’s talk about how you got into this rhythm in the first place.

First off, let’s just admit that email is a way that we communicate. There’s tons of email. It’s a quick way of communicating, and that’s the typical rhythm that we’re all in. Because you want to be a responsible leader of your company, you respond to email. You get email. That’s how you know what’s going on, that’s how you communicate. That’s how you can stay in touch. That’s one reason why you got in the rhythm in the first place.

The second thing is that we both know that you’re employees use emails to CYA, cover their assets. That’s how your employees let you know that they know what’s going on, that they’re in the loop, that they’re doing their job, as they carbon copy you on email. You get a lot of emails that you’re carbon copied on just because other folks want you to know that they know what’s going on.

Here’s thing number three. Let’s be honest. Let’s admit. There’s an ego boost that comes with email. We like it when someone reaches out to us and let’s us know that they care about us. They know we exist. They want out attention. They need our approval, because you’re the leader. People need stuff from you. There’s some ego, there’s some feel good that comes along with getting email, especially when you get a lot of it.

What do you do?

For all three of those things, none of them are too bad all by themselves. The mix of them can really be a distraction. It can take you away from the core leadership function that you have so that you can keep your business functioning in a healthy way. We want to talk some of the new behaviors that you need so that you can get better control over your email inbox, and step back into that chief executive role that’s most important for you and your company.

Step 1: Unsubscribe from Everything

Here’s thing one. Number one, unsubscribe from everything. All these newsletters that you subscribe to because you want to be in the know, you want to be up-to-date, you want to know what’s going on, you don’t need more information. That’s not where you are right now. You need to be executing on specific things. You’ve got all this email coming in from all these different newsletters, unsubscribe from all of them. For those that provide the most value, you’ll miss them when they’re gone, and you can go back and subscribe to those. The first thing to do is to just get less email coming in to your inbox by unsubscribing from all unnecessary newsletters.

Step 2: Filter Out the Emails that Aren’t Imperative

Think number two is that you need to make sure that the only things that come into your email inbox are things that are imperative for you, that require your specific response. There is a person that needs your input to continue their project. There is a task that needs you to respond to it so it can continue its momentum. It requires you. In other words, all those things that you’re carbon copied on, need to be put in a separate folder. You know all those services that you subscribe to, and software programs that you have that send you updates? Those updates are valuable to you, but they should go in a secondary folder. You can review them later.

Personally, I use Gmail. Gmail allows me to set folders and also to set criteria. Any email that comes to me that matches a certain criteria, gets immediately placed into a folder. I do not see it. It doesn’t get to my email inbox. If it meets a criteria it goes into a folder, and then I can review that folder later. That means that anything comes to my inbox, that I see specifically, that I see first, is stuff that requires my attention. It keeps me in my leadership frame of mind, my leadership point of view.

Step 3: If You Open It, You Own It

Here’s thing number three. If you opened that email, you own that email. When you open that email, that is your decision to deal with that issue right at that moment in time. You want to make sure that any correspondence that comes to you, you address it immediately. It gets on your desk and off your desk. You also want to make sure that you’re not in that habit of scrolling through email and thinking about when you might respond to that, or what they might need, or how that needs to work.

While you’re thinking through that, those thoughts clog up your brain, and you can’t do other leadership things that you need to do. If it’s in front of you, deal, and move on. That efficiency saves your precious brain space, saves your precious time to, again, deal with those forward looking things, those 10x opportunities that really need your attention. If you open that email, you own that email.

For now, what’s your next step? Let’s use the comment box below to begin some conversation. Where are you in this email challenge? Should you be unsubscribing? Is that your first step, because you just got to many emails coming to you? Should you be creating some sort of filtering system so that you can only see the emails that matter most to you? Should you adopt the new behavior that is, if you see the email, you own the email? Where are you in this thing called email?

Let’s use the comment box below, and let that be a place where we can begin some conversation. If you happen to be on the blog, you can scroll down a bit and you can pick up a resource I’ve created for you that will help give you further assistance with how to sort out these emails. Some tech tools, and some software tools that will help you simplify your email flow. Please use the comment box below. Let’s talk about where you are with email. Download the resource, if that’s a useful one for you. I shall see you in the next video.

 

Too many emails?

Get organized with the tools in this resource guide

Download the Guide
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