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Are You a Slave to Your eMail?

October 12, 2007

Interestingly, the folks over at Intel are pioneering “eMail-Free Friday”. Which, as it sounds, suggests we spend a workday NOT communicating via eMail. Instead, they recommend talking on the phone, in person or communicating via other methods.

I can’t say I agree with this idea personally, as I think the real problem is not THAT we communicate via eMail, but HOW we communicate via eMail. The story offered some of what I think are great ways to deal with your eMail – so it works for you, not the other way around. To paraphrase the suggestions:

– Don’t check your inbox so often. Tweak Outlook to check for new messages once every 10 minutes instead of every 2 or 3 to help eliminate distractions from other tasks.

– Delete or file messages you’re done with. Some people just leave everything in their inbox, from critical tasks to newsletters to spam…how could this “system” possibly function? Most experts say that you should aim for a maximum of 10 to 20 messages in your inbox at any one time.

– Use a calendar to help you. There’s no need to leave a message in your inbox for months to remind you to do something in January.

– Use appropriate subject lines. Seeing “Project due on Friday 10/19” will be much more helpful than a subject line that reads “Hey…”

– Don’t forget the phone, IM, or even a walk down the hall. Consider getting up out of your seat. The walk will do you good, and they might have candy in their office.