The Etiquette of Email Productivity

By December 18, 2007 No Comments

If it’s true (and I don’t know why it would be) that “a shoemaker’s children have no shoes,” then maybe it’s not too outrageous (see earlier parenthetical comment) that as an email expert, I should have trouble with email. It’s not that I can’t empty my in-box. I’ve read, agree, and often teach about Merlin Mann’s wonderful email productivity tips that he offers in his 43 folders blog about achieving email nirvana with an empty inbox. I organize, file and archive with the best of them. I’m honest and delete the stuff I’m not going to read or answer anyway. I gang my email. I’ve even been quoted by Selling Power for an email bankruptcy article. I’m an expert!

But here is my confession: I’m addicted to the email ping tone.

Yes, of course, I turn off the volume, but we all know how easy it is to see mail as it arrives. The envelope appears or maybe it’s just tiny, little bullet, or you see the movement on your screen behind the screen you’re working on. I know all the tricks and admit it, you do, too.

What’s the problem looking? Ah, there are many! For every email we view, a string of events occurs.

  • Basic: We read it, we’re distracted from what we’re doing. We close it, without responding or taking action. We continue to think about it knowing we have to respond eventually.
  • Intermediate: We read it, we’re interested, we want to know more, we research further. An hour disappears before realizing that we still haven’t completed the email we were working originally when the other email popped up.
  • Advanced: We read it and we love the news. We stop to celebrate. We forward the message to others. They read it, are distracted, send their congratulations. Two hours gone.
  • Master level: We read it and we don’t like the news. We must respond immediately. We spend the rest of the afternoon making our case. We never complete the original email.

SpeakerSue’s rules for 2008
Remember Marshall Loeb’s first 2 rules. In his, Career article, How to Stop Your BlackBerry From Being the Boss of You, he said:

  1. “There is no such thing as an email emergency.”
  2. “The world does not revolve around you.”
  • I’ll remember that I owe it to the person I’m writing to to give them my full attention and not be distracted by incoming mail.
  • I’ll remember that if something is truly urgent (Ex: are you available to speak tomorrow), they’ll also phone me. I won’t miss the information and they won’t miss my response, if it waits 15 minutes.
  • I’ll remember that even though I can multi-task in the car (eat lunch, drive, and, if really pushed, talk on the phone at the same time), it wastes time flipping brain channels by flitting from one email to the next. I’ll complete one task and then move on to the other.

What about you? What email productivity tools do you/will you use to save time, increase efficiency, boost effectiveness, and be in control of your email? Start the conversation!

More later…

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