imageToo many people ask me: �how can I stop email running my life?�

The first response I usually give is to ask what is the first application they start up when their computer has booted up.� Guess what� it�s their email client.� Unless, that is, they have it set to start up automatically.

Gain control over your email

For most of us, the best starting point is to plan your day and to do your first tasks before activating email on your computer.

Unless your job is to scan and deal with emails, let them wait.� And unless your job is to scan and deal with emails, you don�t need an alert function activated so that emails disturb you while working on something else.� Better still, check your emails when you choose to then turn off your email client.

Outlook is a sinner here

MS Outlook is probably the most widely used email client.� Except that it isn�t just that, is it?� It is a contact database.� It is a calendar/diary system.� It is a to do tool.� It is a document tracking system�

If its name is anything to go by, it should be an �outlook� tool, helping you to get a better forward view of your workload.� The huge value of integrating loads of tools is balanced by the problem that, if you want your schedule on your desktop, then you get the email by default � and you can�t readily drop that default � although it is possible to supress easy access to your email and then open it in another window.

By the way: a fascinating fact

Outlook�s predecessor was an application called Schedule+

Reduce the volume of email coming into your inbox

Here are seven ways:

  1. Make use of the voting buttons in outgoing mail, when you want to get a simple response to a question.� You can opt for simple yes/no type options, or set up your own custom responses
  2. For complex surveys, use one of the free survey tools available on-line � like Survey Monkey, Kwik Surveys, Free Online Surveys, or even Google Docs.� A quick search will reveal loads of free services
  3. Send short, well considered emails out
  4. Be careful who you cc an email to and you will get fewer responses
  5. Set up rules to divert regular newsletters into folders and you will be able to allocate time to reading them
  6. Unsubscribe from lists you no longer have the time or inclination to read
  7. Formally close projects that have ended (look at my Shift Happens! blog for tips)

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