How to Create Email Freedom
For most of us we can feel at the mercy of our emails and inbox, being drawn in by the lure of their pings and notifications, often from the moment we wake. But what if we could develop a relationship with technology that put us back in a position of control, and that served us in a far more positive way? That’s what we explored with Chris Hardy, Life & Leadership Coach at Work Well Being, for a recent workshop with one of our clients. The tips were so transformative for us, that we wanted to share Chris’ wisdom with you all!
Mastering your Inbox is possible through the mastery of your approach and attitude towards your emailing. Following a few simple principles will create email freedom, effective work and more time for creativity and leadership.
These principles are easily remembered using the handy acronym ‘PCRAR!’ Like an exotic parrot.
P - Prioritise
C - Create
R - Respond
A - Archive
R - Recover
• Always prioritise your inbox before taking any further action. Sit in silence for a few meditative moments before calmly and effectively sorting your entire inbox according to priority. (I use red, orange and green stars)
• Use the Important v. Urgent matrix to plot your most high priority emails to act on immediately.
• Learn to take action on the things that are important but not necessarily urgent, they are often the actions that will move your business forwards significantly.
• Write your top priority emails offline before you have even opened your inbox. I use Omm Writer to support me writing in an undistracted space.
• Give yourself at least 30 mins (two hours is more like ideal) to be creative, to push your business forward, to take the initiative, before opening and diving into your inbox.
• Create first, respond second.
• Make the distinction in your work between reacting, replying, and responding. When you respond you take your time and your emailing is more effective.
• Responding has a sense of leadership about it. When you react you’re a victim of circumstances, leaders take control and respond with clarity.
• Choose three times per day to open your inbox and dive in. Then make a point of having it closed for the rest of the working day.
• Your inbox is not meant to be your store of emails. That is what archive or folders are for. Use the archive, send emails directly there. I use Todoist to make a note of upcoming tasks that enables me to remove the email from my inbox.
• Use folders, labels, and filters creatively and intelligently to minimise traffic in your inbox and bring awareness to what is top priority.
• Create specific agreements with anybody in your world who expects you to respond immediately to your emails. If you’re happy for that agreement to be explicit then create a separate filter for that person or group of people.
• Probably the most important of all, it’s imperative you create time to recover from your inbox, your smartphone and your technology.
• Have a digital sunset and a digital sunrise when all technology in your home goes off. Be prepared to commit powerfully to new healthy boundaries.
• NEVER have your phone in the bedroom and use airplane mode whenever possible.
• Create mini digital detoxes for you and your family or close friends where you have entire weekends away from all things inbox related.
Steve Covey’s ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ (includes information on the Important v. Urgent matrix.)
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