Check Email Only When You Can Process Email. We all love to ‘check’ our email to see what has arrived since we last viewed our inbox. But this means we continually add to our to-do list (and our anxiety) without giving ourselves the time to actually deal with the email (i.e. respond, delete, file, etc.).

When you really think about it, constant email checking is like running down your driveway to the mailbox every few minutes to see what’s inside and then closing it back up with everything still in there. Talk about exhausting.

Take Charge of Email. Email no longer gets to run what you do throughout the day. It no longer needs to be your ‘default’ task to focus on – a sure sign of being unclear about what your actual priorities are. Committing to taking charge of email is the first step toward owning your work time instead of waiting to be told what to do next by what shows up in your inbox.

> Turn Off Your Notifiers. This is a great way to start taking charge of email. Your notifiers include any flashing lights and buzzers on your phone and your computer. I know this might sound a bit scary for some of you but I urge you to try it out for a day or two and just notice what happens. You are cutting the cord. You are breaking free from the neediness that email encourages. Break free today.

> Give Email a Home. Highly productive business owners understand the role of e-mail – that it is a tool to support their job. It isn’t their job. The best way to make this clear for yourself is to decide in advance when it makes the most sense to process your email throughout the day.

> Put a time limit on your email processing sessions and voila! Your email now has a home AND you’ve created more interruption-free time in your day to focus on getting your actual work done.

I had one client go from being ‘on’ email about 10 hours a day (she was working closer to 15) and drop to 90 minutes a day. After practicing that for a month she realized she only needed 30 minutes a day to deal with email. Obviously, her work experience has been transformed.

> Stop Trying to Be An Instant-Responder. Obviously if you were to follow these tips some of you may end up responding at a slower pace than what your e-mail recipients are used too. This can create anxiety because you have trained everyone around you to expect an immediate response. But understand this – the fastest responder is never the most productive. They get their e-mails responded to yes, but they almost always have long-term projects piling up on their desks that they never seem to have time to do. They also are typically the worker bees that can’t shut down until 8, 9, and 10 at night. This is not a sign of a highly productive person. If you are always-on you can never have the interruption-free time to think and create and produce.

Retrain your recipients to expect your level of service to improve dramatically because you are no longer chained to responding to them instantly.

> Eat Your Frog First Thing in the Morning. Productivity guru Brian Tracy calls your daily tasks your ‘Frogs’. A really wonderful practice offered as one of the very best productivity habits around is to determine your #1 frog of the day and get this task done before checking your email. Imagine getting an hour or two of that project completed before dealing with anybody else’s requests of you. It feels AMAZING. And surprisingly the world doesn’t end because your inbox didn’t feel any love until 10am.

What new email habits are you going to experiment with?

Author's Bio: 

Julie Gray is a seasoned space organizer, coach, and productivity adviser for exhausted overachievers who are ready to stop the cycle without sacrificing success and find the time and energy to get more out life.

Julie's unique expertise is in harmonizing your space, time, AND energy in order to optimize your productivity and drive faster, more impactful results. Her comprehensive system creates more time in your day, and is designed to evolve along with your ever-changing life.

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