How to stop being a slave to email

- May 30, 2015 2 MIN READ

Setting boundaries and not becoming a slave to email means shorter work hours, more time for your family and yourself, and increasing the quality of the work and service you deliver. What’s not to love about that?

We’ve all become slaves to email over the last few years haven’t we?

In our heads, at the end of every item in our inbox is someone sitting at their laptops (or watching their phones), desperately waiting for a response. Well, today I’m here to tell you something earth-shattering.

They’re not.

If it was that important they’d have called.

So now that we’ve established you don’t need to be keeping one eye on your inbox every second of the day, I want you to try something new when you sit down this morning: don’t open your email first thing.

Seriously, don’t.

By being an email slave we allow the demands of others claim our energy and re-route us from what needed to get done that day. Today is the day that stops, and this is how you’re going to do it:

  1. Check your email once or twice a day, at the same time every day.
    Make a habit of opening your email program at that specific time, and only at that time. Get through it all at once, and then close your email program down again.
  2. Let everyone know your schedule in your signature. This is what I have: “I check my email every day at 2pm, because I ‘eat the frog first’”. I then have a link to Brian Tracy’s book Eat that Frog so others can get on that train with me! Honestly however, it doesn’t matter what you put in your signature. So long as people know when to expect a response from you they won’t freak out. It’s only when they don’t know what’s happening, or by when, that things get tense.
  3. Stick to the one touch rule: When you open an email, deal with it then and there. Some people abide by the “respond, refer or reject” idea. You either respond to the email, outsource it to someone who can help, or outright delete it. If the email is open, that means you’re dealing with it.
  4. Don’t break your rules. There’s a reason we’re being proactive: it makes us more focused, we get our work done in half the time, and when we respond to our clients they have our full attention. Keep to this schedule.
  5. When you’re dealing with email, deal only with email. I have a website blocker that runs for 25 minutes and blocks me from accessing certain sites (like social media and news sites). This means that I am set on dealing with email and nothing else until it’s done. This keeps my emailing time as a 45 minute thing, not a 90 minute thing.
  6. Log off at the end of the day. Don’t check email when you’re sitting at home having dinner, or relaxing in front of the TV, or just before you pop out to the gym. These restrictions are what allow you to step out of your work zone (even if it’s just in the corner of your lounge room) and have a life. If you keep logging in and emailing off the bat, that’s what your clients will expect from you, no matter what your email signature says.

You won’t know how your clients will respond to your email limits until you set them. This means giving your brain the space to focus on what needs to get done on your business and deliver the best service you can.

And you want to know a secret? Your customers will be okay. They will survive.

And so will you.

Are you currently an email slave? Have I inspired you change that?

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  • Andrew Caska

    Caska IP Patent Attorneys

    'Flying Solo opened up so many doors for us - I honestly don't know where I'd be without it"