We often blame our lack of time-management skills for an overflowing email inbox. Lifehack.org's Francis Wade says our overflowing inboxes might be the reason we're so unproductive in the first place.
Image by HeatedGroundPhotography.
If you're constantly frustrated by a lack of time to deal with all those emails you've been meaning to answer, Wade says maybe it's time to change the way you approach your workflow. A few years ago it might have been OK to leave a message or two from friends or colleagues unanswered for a day or two. Today, however, we come into contact with far too many people every day to make that approach practical.
Nowadays, we'll often glance at an email and then file it away to answer "soon". Often, it only takes a couple of days for the inbox to start overflowing and pretty soon we're overwhelmed with too much email to answer and not enough time to get to it. That's enough to make a person feel completely unproductive, and it's all downhill from there.
What we don't see clearly is that we do damage to our reputations and to our time management systems when we don't manage individual habits. A bad habit that becomes a ritual can drag down our productivity, without our knowing it.
The answer, says Wade, is to develop a habit of answering every email as soon as you read it, so it's not hanging over your head and weighing on your mind.
What system you choose to manage your workflow isn't as important as getting into the habit of making sure you maintain it so you don't fall behind. We've previously mentioned ways to get to inbox zero, so if your productivity is being zapped by too much unanswered email, maybe now's a good time to start over. What are your top tips for getting email answered quickly? Share them in the comments.