You don’t want to spend your work day checking email.
You didn’t get into education to answer email.
You didn’t get a degree to respond to email all day.
One author compares email to the old mail room. You probably wouldn’t be too jazzed about working in the mail room (unless you’re Buddy the Elf!), but your inbox is winning:
Unless you’re some uber-successful mogul with someone managing your inbox, email is a part of your work. Your principal uses email. Your colleagues use email. You use email.
Here’s 5 ways to better control your inbox and give you more time:
Email is an opportunity
This year I’ve emailed school board members and state representatives on educational issues. My emails were respectful but clear on my perspective.
Less than half of these leaders replied to my email.
Two leaders sent thoughtful replies.
A couple others replied with the standard “thank you for contacting me . . . “.
But the majority didn’t reply. I don’t want to make up stories as to why these elected officials didn’t respond. And there’s times I don’t get back to people, but your email is a billboard for you. People will think positively or negatively about you based on your email interaction.
Choose to see people emailing you as a privilege and an opportunity to communicate and serve them.
Schedule inbox time
Schedule email time and then don’t check email outside the scheduled time. People with legitimate emergencies know how to contact you outside of email. When my kid’s school needs to reach me because my kid is sick, they don’t email me.
Whenever you decide to do email work, it shouldn’t be the first or last two hours of your day. You don’t want to open email the first two hours of your day because your inbox has other people’s agenda for you and your day (buy this! read this! click this!). You don’t want to end your day checking email because then you’re telling your brain you’re still in work mode rather than getting ready for sleep mode.
You may need to experiment with times that work for you to find a consistent time. I try to check email around 9 in the morning (after I’ve been up and working for several hours on things I want to work on) to see what needs my attention. I’ll check it at least once more later in the work day. A friend of mine autoreplies to every incoming email telling the sender when he checks email so you’re not waiting with baited breath for him to respond (and what is baited breath? It sounded like the right thing to write there but I have no idea what it means!).
If you’re a teacher, tell parents when you check email.
If you’re a principal, tell teachers and staff when you check email.
When you communicate when you check email, you give free people from wondering when you’ll reply.
Your phone sucks at email
You need to tell your phone it sucks at email and you’re no longer using it as your inbox. Turn off email notifications in your phone and if you’re so moved, can delete the email apps. Once you have a set time for email, you no longer need your iPhone to say you have an email from Target about their big summer blowout. Email notifications take you from whatever it was you were doing (grading papers, cooking dinner, watching your son’s baseball game) and bring you back to your phone where checking the email becomes wasting time on Facebook, the Gram, or candy crush.
Your phone’s an amazing tool but it doesn’t have your best interest in mind with email. Turn off the notifications today.
Don’t read email
You’ve set aside time for email so now what? Don’t read your email.
You don’t want to read email. You want to decide emails.
Is the email a request to meet? Schedule it and move to your calendar. Can’t meet? Send a reply saying you can’t meet.
Is the email an offer to buy something? That’s most of our inbox. Buy or delete.
Is the email something you want to learn like an article, a podcast or video? Schedule the time to listen or read. Set up a folder where you store these learning emails and give yourself a week to listen to the podcast or read the article. Don’t get to in a week? It wasn’t important so delete.
Does the email need your opinion? These are the most challenging for me because I need “think time. Thank the sender for the email and let them know when you’ll get back to them with input.
You get the idea. Make decisions with email, don’t read it.
Put your email to work
Email is a powerful tool that can work for you. Use email to communicate vision.
To get YOUR work done.
How can you put your email to work without getting lost in your inbox?
One tip that’s worked for me: work in a different part of Gmail (like the “drafts” folder) where I compose emails and send them (or schedule them). I don’t see incoming emails and I am using email to communicate what I want to communicate
What email tips work for you? Let us know and together we’ll do better with out inboxes and get some time back.
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