Curbing your addiction to email

If you’re like me, email consumes a major part of your day.

I’m constantly trying to get email under control.

Some things work for me.  Others don’t.  But I’m always looking for ways to automate and reduce the time it takes me to process and reply to email.

I use gmail.  Some the ideas below are specific to gmail, but will probably work with any email provider.

Here are some great tips from Craig Jarrow, the “Time Management Ninja

1.  Elimination

Eliminate unnecessary messages from ever hitting your ‘inbox’.  I use a service called SaneBox ( that does this for me.  Essentially, I put pre-screen everything into a folder that I only open at certain times of the day.  And only the REALLY important things show in my inbox (which, again… I only look at at certain times of the day).  It’s kind of like gmail filters on steroids.

2.  Filtering

I still do filter some messages in gmail… mostly for organization purposes.  I can always search for the email using gmail’s search capability, but filters and folder make it easier for me to find things.

3.  Batch processing

I’m trying to better at this.  Craig suggests checking email every 1-2 hours at the maximum; 1-2 times a day if you can get there.  The best way to do that?  Don’t keep your gmail tab open.  Actually, I keep mine open, but ‘pause’ it with a Chrome extension called “inbox pause”.  Essentially, all of your email is paused until you choose to look at it.  This is a MAJOR way to get more out of your day.

4.  One touch

I try to deal with an email as soon as I read it.  Once and done.

This is trickier than it seems.  I always try to keep my main inbox empty (or at least with five items or less)

Here’s how it works:  when you open an email, you either delete it, deal with it, or delegate it.

Just don’t read it and then move on to something else… you’ll ALWAYS have to come back to it, which is a major waste of time.

5.  Outsourcing

I don’t do this currently… but if you get a large volume of email, you may want to have an assistant take the first stab at this.  Many Lead Pastors do this, I’ve found… and it seems to work for them.  It serves as a gatekeeper to let through only the most urgent requests and priority messages.

So… how do YOU deal with email?

Are you happy with how much time you spend on email?

Do you have a great system, or do you just kind of take it as it goes?

Read more of Craig’s suggestions here.

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