Email. It’s a necessary evil.
Well, it’s not always evil, it can actually provide some great opportunities to communicate with people that we may not have any other way to communicate with. It saves us from having lengthy meetings and it helps us send quick messages to anyone around the world.
As I talk to people, leaders especially, it seems like almost everyone is overwhelmed by it.
I don’t have all the answers and many of you reading this get FAR more email than I do, but I have managed over the last year or so to get to inbox zero virtually every day. It can be done. You don’t have to drown in the deep end of email.
Here are four ways to finally get control of that necessary evil in your life.
Schedule time for email.
This is one you may have heard, but it’s important. Don’t leave that email app open all day. Have certain times throughout the day, usually two, that you respond to email. That allows you to respond within the same day twice if necessary. Sure, you may have to send more throughout the day, but open up your email client, hit send and then shut it down. This keeps email from dominating your day and prevents you from being a slave to the “ding” of new email arriving in your inbox.
Never leave anything in your inbox.
Don’t just read an email and leave it where you found it. If you do, every time you come back to your email, you’ll have to process that same email … even if it’s just in your mind. Use a tool like Dispatch (iOS), Airmail (Mac) or any of a host of other clients that let you perform actions on your email. Send them to your task list, answer them, send them to evernote, just don’t leave them in your inbox.
Push work emails to only one spot.
Ever get to the point where you here that notification on your phone or see that notification bubble count up and get a bad churning in your stomach? If you’re a pastor, your thought is probably something like, “Oh no, what happened and where do I need to be.” To keep you from this, only have your work emails pushed to one device (other than your main computer). For me, this is my iPad. The way I see it, if it’s that urgent, they’ll call or text me. This is extremely helpful on the weekends!
Be cordial, but be short.
I don’t know where it happened, but it must have somehow become acceptable to either ignore an email or just send a snappy response back. Should you keep your responses short as you’re sorting out your inbox? Sure. Never, though, underestimate the importance of being cordial. Just leave with a “Thank You!” or a “Hope you have a good day” message. Be cordial, but be short.
What other email tips do you have?
Productivity is a passion of mine because the impact of our ministry is easily multiplied when we learn to work efficiently and effectively. That’s why I released The Productive Pastor: A Guide to Getting More of the Right Stuff Done to help pastors discover a better path. Go to theproductivepastor.com for more information.