Managing email is such a big problem, making it even moderately better creates a worldwide movement. While most of us can't ignore email entirely, one way to get your inbox under control is to avoid using it unless it's absolutely necessary.
Photo by Ian Lamont
Most of us probably have more than one choice when it comes to communicating with someone. Text messages, IM, even Facebook. If you need a response quickly, don't bother with email, suggests CEO of InboxDetox Marsha Egan. Use something more immediate for imminent needs. It's all about choosing the right tool for the job:
Email, Egan advises, shouldn't be your default method of communication. "A lot of people make their own email trouble by sending too much email," she says. "Email begets email." If you need something in less than three hours, she instructs, "use another mode of communication, such as a phone call, a visit or even a text. This allows people to work on other things without fearing the 'ding.'"
By modelling the behaviour you want other people to use (namely, not flooding their inboxes), you encourage them to do the same -- especially if you're a manager. "If a boss sends an important note two minutes before the meeting," Egan explains, "then everyone in the company has learned they can't shut their email down."
That's not to say email doesn't have its place. But that place certainly isn't everything you'll ever say to another human. You can set the tone for your communication with other people by how you initiate conversation. So, instead of ending up with a flooded inbox, you have a more manageable one.
5 Ways to Keep Email From Taking Over Your Life [Five Cent Nickel]