BN360 Spotlight Blog: Managing Email in Our Professional Lives

With every passing day, we become more and more reliant on technology in both our personal and professional lives.  With each new technological development, we are promised that our lives will be made easier and that formerly onerous tasks can be completed with just a few swipes or clicks.  With an array of devices continuously available to provide instantaneous access to nearly unlimited content, it is easy to lose track of time or concentration when we need to maintain our focus on important tasks in our personal and professional lives.

One of the biggest distractions, especially in our professional lives, is email.  With the greater access and availability that email provides, it brings with it equally great exmt300x300pectations.  A client, coworker or friend expects that you will see an email the moment it hits your inbox.  Our smartphones fill our lock screen with messages and Outlook sends multiple warnings that a new, potentially critical, email has been received.  With such immediate access, expectations are created that every email will be responded to or acted on in mere moments.  Without a doubt, there are important and time sensitive communications in our emails.

The key to managing this greater access to our attention is to determine which messages actually require immediate action and which may be attended to later.  It is easy to feel the need to act on every email immediately.  Conversely, it is similarly easy to feel overwhelmed by a full inbox and delay action on potentially important emails.  One solution, which has helped me, is to block out small periods of time two to three times a day to organize those emails and determine which require immediate action and what tasks can be performed later for those non-critical or less time sensitive emails.

To be comfortable with this delayed review and task setting, you need to have a system of reminders that you can depend on.  If you know you can set an action reminder and remove the email from your inbox, it will make managing emails simpler and make you more comfortable not acting on every email immediately.  When you have the time to devote your attention to each of those new action items, they can be completed efficiently and, consequently, with less stress.