Leadership Simplified: Doug Van Dyke

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Email Whisperer - Do You Need One?

Volume: Mid-April 2010

By Doug Van Dyke, Leadership Simplified, www.leadershipsimplified.com

 

“I get 300 emails a day!” That’s what a colleague confessed to me recently. My question to her was: “How do you handle that?” Her response was filled with resignation: “Not well,” she answered.

 

Perhaps you experience something similar to my friend – an abundance of non-spam emails throwing themselves at your virtual feet and begging for your precious time and attention. Just as email can serve as an easy form of communication, it can be a productivity killer when it is voluminous and non-prioritized.

 

So what are the email-frustrated and overwhelmed to do? Here are three strategies to consider:

 

  1. Day Plan.  In other words, set designated times during the day that you will review and act on your email. Four times per day is acceptable, more than that is, well, getting a bit obsessive. Nothing should be sent via email that can’t wait three hours anyway. Also, resist the urge to scan your emails during non-designated times. As such, turn off those devilish pop-up email notification tools. Ninety-five percent of the time, all they do is create a distraction that crimps your focus. 

Face the fact that if something requires your immediate attention, you should receive a phone call as opposed to an email. This sentiment is elaborated on in a recent newsletter I penned entitled Hierarchy of CommunicationThe message is this: Do not let email rule your day. Take charge. And plan accordingly.

 

  1. A – B – C’s. To the best of your ability, request that people who send you regular emails prioritize them. By this, they would place a letter (i.e., A, B, C) in front of the subject/topic of their email. For example: 

To: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) 

Subject: B – Follow up from last Friday’s meeting. The answer to what you are thinking is “Yes.” Yes, in the beginning, everyone who embraces your request will place an “A” in their subject line, especially customers.   This is not a bad thing. In fact, it is a good thing. It shows that people are embracing a system that can help you prioritize volumes of data, and it is good for them because they are having thoughts of prioritization   as well. At a minimum, this strategy can easily be implemented within a department or in a small business. If you communicate the strategy and you begin to adhere to it, others will follow your lead.     

 

  1. Find an email whisperer. Some of you are lucky enough to have an administrative assistant – bravo! Use them, or find inexpensive virtual assistance via elance.com or other reliable outlets. With proper instruction, you can assign the task of taking your non-prioritized email and having someone place it in proper order for your review. Viola, an inbox of hundreds of emails can be whittled down to a handful of essential pieces of correspondence that merit your time today.

 

Interested in more ideas? Send me an email requesting additional thoughts on efficiency. Place an “A” in the subject line if you don’t mind. You are important to me. Until next time……

 

 

Do you want to use this newsletter in print or online? 

Please do so, as long as you do not alter the content or embedded links. Also, please include the following information: Doug Van Dyke is a Tampa Bay based leadership and collaboration consultant, executive coach, and strategic planner. To learn more about leadership development programs, coaching and consulting services, visit www.leadershipsimplified.com. 

 

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