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Get Focused: Create a Schedule for Checking Email

With the hundreds of emails being sent and received daily, it’s no wonder you find yourself spending so much time sorting out your inbox! With alerts on your phone or tablet, you might find yourself coming back to your inbox several times an hour instead of focusing on other tasks that need to be done. It might feel like you spend more time in your inbox than on any work you need to do. This NYC Professional Office Organizer knows that the best solution for this challenge is to develop an email processing schedule that works for you.

Assess your email first thing in the morning. This way you’ll know if there are any urgent requests that need to go to the top of that day’s task list. If so, you can than re-prioritize your to-do’s. However, assessing means a quick scan of the messages. If there isn’t any reason to re-adjust the priorities, focus on the top must-get-done task before processing the messages in your inbox. Often there will be a new project or task within the new messages. If you’re not careful, your focus will shift to it and the project that already needed attention will be put aside.

Make email your second priority, rather than your first. Don’t be a slave to your inbox! Even if email is the main form of communication for you, it doesn’t mean you need to be glued to your screen, refreshing your inbox every five minutes. You can’t be productive if you are constantly in your email. Maintaining a standard of immediate response to emails is unrealistic and prevents you from getting other important tasks done.

Develop a schedule that works for you. You absolutely can’t spend your entire day in your inbox. Set time at set intervals to process the latest messages that have accumulated.  The frequency will vary depending upon the amount of email that collects.  It could be 3 or more times per day. The amount of time needed for processing email is correlated to the number of messages that have accumulated. As you’re only processing the mail, this should go fast. Respond to anything that needs immediate attention or that you can can be addressed within 2 minutes. Turn off your notifications or shut down your email so that you aren’t distracted while during other work.

Schedule clean-up. Schedule time at the end of the week for email maintenance tasks. Clean out your inbox removing messages that were addressed or messages that should be moved to a folder. Scan the spam folder (if you haven’t done so during the week) for messages that got trapped in error.  Empty the trash bin. This way you’ll have a good starting point for the following week

The key is to not let your email dictate your work day. You control your own productivity, not your email! If you need help creating an email management system that works for you, reach out to this NYC Professional Office Organizer today!

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