This is the last video of the three-part series on time management. In the first video, I touched on how to identify and eliminate distractions that are getting in the way of your productivity. In the second video, I talked about ways you can prioritize and organize all of the various tasks and goals that you need to accomplish—both at work and at home—to create that work-life balance.
Today, I'm going to talk more about what Hubspot says takes up 13 hours of our week on average: EMAIL.
We need email. It's not like we can do without it altogether. It's essential in our business communication, and many of us rely on it for our personal communications as well. So, what can you do to help minimize distractions by email alone to help you with time management?
1. Turn Off Notifications
One of the first things you can do is to turn off your email communications. You could also do this with other apps. Notifications are the worst contributor to trigger micro-moments in a person's mind. It can get us off task, and because of the way our brain functions, we have to spend more time to get back into the task after that notification has either alerted us or if we just strayed off and got distracted when we were responding.
2. Take The Conversation Off Email
Another thing I recommend is moving some of your conversations off email and into an online chat feature or something similar. A lot of times - especially when conversations are collaborative, and depending on how your threads are set up - can be distracting. Also, it's easy to lose content and important information in an email thread. This can be affected by how many attachments people are sending back and forth, and various conversations can bubble up when brainstorming is happening. You want to make sure you're not missing out on meaningful conversation, and by taking something like this off email and into a chat conversation, can help you be more organized and also declutter your email.
At The Center for Sales Strategy, we use Microsoft Teams as our chat platform, and I really love it. What I have noticed I've discovered is that not everyone is always comfortable shifting gears and changing platforms with their communication strategy in the workplace. If this is you, I recommend taking one conversation off email and into chat at a time - baby steps. Then, invite people to join you so they can also experience the ease of use of the platform.
3. Organize and Prioritize
Another tip to help you limit email distractions is to organize your email inbox by folders and create priorities. This helps you avoid distractions like newsletters or solicitations that come across your email, and you can truly focus on the things that are going to create productivity and help you be productive throughout the day. Folders and priority help you eliminate distractions in email that aren't as important.
You can also apply this to your personal life and your personal email. One of the things I found when turning off notifications on my personal email, I would forget to check my personal email. So, what I did is I created an Outlook calendar reminder so every night at a certain time, if I haven't checked my personal email, I make sure I do.
Don't fret if you think that notifications help on track—they could actually be more distracting. Use your calendar apps to help create reminders to help you achieve other goals and make sure you are checking emails on a regular basis, but without the constant notifications.
4. Permit Yourself to Take a Break from Email
Give yourself permission to not react to email. You may have heard me say this before, but it applies to this email strategy as well, but give yourself permission to take a break from email. Set an out of office reply for a certain amount of time that you feel you need to accomplish your goals and your tasks in the timeframe you want so that you are most productive. This also sets an expectation for your prospects or co-workers, and even for those who might email your work address for personal communication.
Whatever situation you're in, you might want to set an out-of-office notification for an hour or two so you have a few hours of dedicated work time that's uninterrupted by constantly responding to emails. As long as you're getting back to people in the timeframe you say you will, then you're setting that expectation, and that's okay. You don't have to be reactive to every single email that comes across your inbox immediately. You will find yourself feeling like you've been in the thread of emails for a few hours, but haven't done much else other than answer questions for people.
Keep these email tips in mind to help you with time management by prioritizing the most important email tasks, so hopefully, you're not spending 13 hours each week on email alone.
Check out the previous videos from this series on time management tips:
- Time Management Tips from the Sales Pros - Part 1 of 3 (VIDEO)
- Time Management Tips from the Sales Pros - Part 2 of 3 (VIDEO)