Rory Vaden is a friend and colleague in the speaking profession. While Rory is a relative newcomer, he is a rising star because of his good ideas, platform power and integrity. He is the founding partner of Southwestern Consulting, a public seminar company that provides professional sales training.
The following is a nuts and bolts article from Rory’s ezine which I know you’ll find useful.
Advanced Email Strategies
It’s amazing how many of our consulting clients are struggling with email. Managing email is quickly becoming one of the biggest challenges in business today. It’s also becoming a tremendous source of anxiety and stress for a lot of people. Fortunately, I’ve been learning a lot about the subject not only from handling my personal inbox, but from some of the highest performing professionals in the market today. In hopes not to overwhelm you, I’m breaking this up into a few articles. So, here are 5 self-discipline strategies that you can use today to help you get your inbox to 0!
#1 The Batch Attack – Batching means you don’t check email except for set times during the day. You have to discipline yourself to be willing to let them build up, knowing comfortably that you have systems in place to nuke them later. Batching is more efficient because it allows you to put your focus completely on email, then focus on something else, then back on email, and then back to something else, etc. Batching also reduces your anxiety by demonstrating that you have power over your inbox and that you are not slave to the minutiae of email. There comes a point (after you are so ridiculously frustrated with the amount of emails that you get) if you let them build up to where you get so many emails that you will become numb to the stress they cause and they lose their power over you. There are so many and it’s so impossible to keep up that you stop caring that they come in. That is actually a healthy place to get to because it empowers you to, from that point on, let them build-up knowing that you will batch-attack them later.
#2 The No-Notify Technique – Turn off the Outlook notification window. This is a core principal of self-discipline: The Magnification Principle. Focus is power. Sunlight focused enough (through a magnifying glass) creates enough energy to start a piece of paper on fire. Your focus does the same thing; it creates energy. Anything (other than family) that distracts your focus during catch-up time should be viewed at as the enemy and should be eliminated. One of the biggest culprits is the ridiculous Outlook window that flashes up in the bottom right and/or the little yellow envelope. Get rid of it. Now I know some people are stuck on the idea that “I have to be able to respond to email RIGHT AWAY”. I get it. I have important deals, last minute contracts, etc. too and so do our clients. But really, do reasonable people honestly expect you to be available at their beck and call every waking moment of every waking day? And besides, who really has the time for you to call them back right away unscheduled? I prefer to do business with high-performing people and I don’t expect high-performing people to be sitting on email 24 hours a day – most of them don’t; do you? Turn off the window, batch it, and get back to them. Even if you batch, you’re still checking email 3-5x a day. This will feel awkward at first, but you’ll get used to it shortly and you’ll love the freedom you have to focus on other things during the day.
#3 The Save Out Technique – I sometimes have a hard time cleaning out my closet and giving away clothes, even if I haven’t worn them in years. Do you have that problem? Most of us have the exact same problem with email. We keep an email on the off chance that we might need it someday. I believe that psychologically there is a huge emotional cost to carrying “baggage” like that, but even if we can’t get ourselves to just delete stuff, then what I recommend is copy and paste that email to a word document and save it somewhere. If you need it, you can get to it, but it’s out of the daily view of your inbox. Clean it out.
#4 The Extended Out of Office – This is a great strategy one of my coaching clients stumbled upon by accident after a calendar goof up. When you are travelling out of the office, turn your out of office assistant on and have it say that you’ll be gone 1-2 days later (or earlier) than you’ll actually be gone. Since it takes you 1-2 days of focused uninterrupted time to catch up anyway, let the world think you are unavailable; because you are. You’re busy catching up and keeping your sanity.
#5 The Non Multi-Medium Technique – Multi-media might be the way we digest entertainment information, but it shouldn’t be the way we process all of our work information. It’s one thing to have 200 emails to catch up on, but that hopeless feeling tends to be dramatically amplified if we also have 10 voicemails, 6 sticky notes on our desk, a pile of snail mail, a stack of business cards to call back on, 4 texts to reply to and Tweetdeck up and running in the background. Yuck. Instead, funnel and try to consolidate all of those mediums into one central method for managing and distributing tasks; such as email. Even if it means you go from 200 emails to 230, it will still help you focus better. So try to somehow convert those items to email tasks (by emailing yourself, for example) so that everything can be centralized in one place. You’ll go nuts trying to keep up on all the different platforms. Clean off the clutter to conserve your desk space and your emotional energy and get it all into one manageable place. Also, turn your attention away from less critical (non-immediately income producing) tasks such as social media until you get caught up.
Hopefully that will get you off and running towards a 0 inbox!