Merge's Blog

Improve your productivity by handling your email in blocks

Today on the blog, I want to once again to share specific ideas on how leaders can improve their productivity.  In Strategy #17 in this series, I told you that blocking your schedule is an effective and powerful way to improve your productivity.  Specifically, I talked about blocking time in your calendar for strategic projects and office hours.  I want to extend that idea further today – set a block of time aside to deal with your email.

Deal with email in blocks

Almost every leader I work with tells me that email has become the bane of their existence.  Not only is it coming in constantly, but as fast as they can reply, more emails arrive!  Which means it is very easy for email to take over your entire workday.  Unless you deliberately and thoughtfully work to avoid that.  So here’s an approach that I know works, because many leaders have told me so.  It has two parts.

Use a two-minute rule

First, operate under a general rule that unless you can deal with an email within two minutes, you will defer it.  So if you glance at your email on the fly (whether it’s between meetings, or waiting for the elevator, or as you’re waiting for others to get settled), see if you can delete or delegate it in less than 2 minutes.  If you’ve read it, then you can delete it.  If it needs to be sent to someone else who is better equipped to deal with it, then go ahead and send it to them.  Everything else falls into the “defer” category.

Block time for “deferred” email

So the second part of this system to improve your productivity is to set aside specific periods in the day to tackle your email.  This is your chance to attend to the stuff that you deferred earlier, because you knew that it would take more than two minutes.  Most leaders I know handle their email twice a day, once in the morning, and once later in the afternoon.  But do what makes the most sense to you.  Just stop doing it randomly all the time.  If you want to improve your productivity, then it makes sense to set aside periods of time to deal specifically with your email.

Today’s video blog is number 21 in a series I started at the beginning of this year, specifically focusing on practical ways to improve your productivity.  Here are links to some of the most recent ones.

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