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Processing time: 30 minutes
Today’s task is only relevant for you if you are professionally bombarded by too many emails. If this is not the case, you have the day off.
The biggest time guzzler during work is usually email. What a wonderful invention, but also what a curse!
The problem is that most people check their emails several times a day and again and again, only to respond immediately. That keeps people busy and gives them the (often deceptive) feeling that they are accomplishing something. Because almost everyone thinks and works this way, more and more emails are created, with ever-larger distribution lists, to which people then react again to feel busy.
Here is your task:
As of today, you are getting out of this problematic club! For the next two weeks, please adhere to the following iron rule:
Emails are only and exclusively checked at 11:00 am and 4:00 pm and answered within 30 minutes.
This way, you start your working day directly with your actual work and don’t spend half the morning, “just checking your emails.”
Explain to your colleagues why you are doing this by activating the following automatic email reply for one week:
Ladies and gentlemen,
Due to the high workload, I read and answer my emails daily only at 11:00 and 4:00.
If you urgently need help that cannot wait until 11:00 am or 4:00 pm, please call me at Tel. xxx-xxx-xxx.
Thank you for helping me be more efficient so that I can better support you.
During your dedicated email time (e.g., from 11:00 am to 11:45 am and 4:00 pm to 4:45 pm), you first mark all emails that, at first glance, are obviously irrelevant to you as “read” or delete them immediately, then they are moved to the trash.
Now go through the emails and sort them according to specific criteria before you reply:
- Are you only on cc?
=> Skim the title and, if applicable, the content to assess whether it is relevant for you. If no, mark it as “read;” if yes, read it and only derive tasks for you if they are essential.
- Are you just being informed?
=> No answer
- Are you being asked something?
=> You are the right contact person. Think briefly about whether the question can be clarified more quickly and better with a short telephone call and make a note of it. If you are the right contact person and can answer the question in less than two minutes by email, then do so. Otherwise, plan the answer (preferably by phone, answer counter-questions immediately, discover other things “between the lines,” and maintain the relationship).
=> You are the wrong contact person. Forward the email to the right person, with the original “client” in cc: and just write:
“Hello [name], can you please do this for [client]? Thanks!” Greetings, [your name].
With this procedure, you will save about 80% of the time spent on email than before.
Practice this discipline daily. What is becoming increasingly important now: You need to know what to do with your freed-up time. Many people don’t know what to do with their free time and start to fill it up with “being busy” again. But you know how you want to use your time: developing your own ideas, to push them further, and to take care of yourself and your life.
This exercise will get you out of the email grind in which so many people are stuck because it gives you the deceptive feeling of being busy and creating something. To successfully implement your own business idea, you need to focus on real benefits for yourself and your customers and no longer just on “being busy.”