Email: Bulk Process vs. Constant Processing All Day

May 9, 2012

Managing email is a challenge most of us face every day. Peter Bregman has written an article on the Harvard Business Review site with some suggestions on how to better handle the flood of email we all deal with daily.

His core recommendation is that you set three 30 minute blocks each day to deal with email and then turn it off in between those times.

His process flows as follows:

1. Send: I start my timer and begin by writing emails I had planned to send. . . 

2. Delete: Next, I quickly glance through the “subject” and “from” lines on the emails in my inbox and immediately delete the ones I know I don’t want to waste time reading, . . .

3. Respond: I do my best to answer every single email that comes directly to me, even if it means just writing “Thank you.” . . .

4. File: Once I open an email, I don’t leave it in my inbox. I found that when I did leave emails in my inbox, I’d re-read them repeatedly each time I opened my email, . . . , my goal is to empty my inbox.

5. Read and follow up: In whatever time I have left before my timer goes off, I go through my non-inbox folders, . . .

End: When my countdown timer sounds, I close out my email program. Once I’m done, I don’t return to my email — on any device — until my next scheduled session.

He also gives some advice on how to use signatures for recurring emails as well as how to better use rules.

If you sometimes struggle with how best to deal with email, you might find this article useful – click here to read the entire article.