Increase productivity with only a small change in email behaviour!

Written by Lisa van Koldam

July 30, 2017

What if changing one single habit would give you plenty more time, increase your productivity and overall help you to get more done in a day? Many of us developed the habit of starting the day processing emails and social feed. If you limit yourself to doing at fixed moments in your day, it becomes much easier to manage your time. So, let’s plan to not open your email before 12 o’clock.

3 hacks to process your email

Did you know that tasks that require a strong focus are best done in the morning? During those first three to four hours of the working day you have fresh energy and a quiet mind. In that state it is easier to finish a complex proposal. Or to solve a complicated technical issue that has been troubling you for days. Intercepted by phone calls or processing emails that same task can take up to a day, or even longer. 

Feel great during lunch

So, put your phone on silent mode, delegate emergencies and arrange for someone else to deal with the phone. The benefits you gain with this hack: you will feel great during lunch. You’ve achieved serious progress and there’s still enough time left to do the things that require less concentration.  

Getting Things Done

Wondering how to deal with that scary inbox after 12? Process it effectively. 10 years ago, I was inspired to doing things differently by the “Getting Things Done” principle; as described in the book with the same name by David Allen. These are the 3 mail hacks he introduces:

  • Emails that can be processed within 2 minutes should be processed immediately. When done, archive the email so it leaves your inbox.
  • Emails that you will probably never act upon – no immediate action needed, no importance – can be delegated or archived.
  • This only leaves one type of email:  important emails that cannot be done within 2 minutes. Put these on a to-do list in your mailbox:  ‘Flag’ these messages in outlook and add a date. This way you can easily filter these emails as an actual to-do list and work through them at a set time. For instance, on one of those dedicated focussed morning.

Get rid of the sub-folders

That well-thought-out file system with sub-folders in your mailbox is no longer necessary. Last year Outlook introduced a button that archives your email simply by clicking it. Separate folders belong to the past, as the improved quality of Outlook’s search engine enables you to find your mails easily and much faster.

Try this for the coming month and focus completely on your overall goal. You will notice that you will get more things done during the day! I am confident you will never switch back to your old ways.

Work Happy!

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