Imagine you’re getting into bed, exhausted from a hard day’s work. You put in the time to get done what you needed to get done today, and now you need sleep so you can be refreshed for tomorrow’s challenges.
Then ¡BAM! you’re jolted awake and you ask yourself, staring wide-eyed into your ceiling fan, “did I respond to that email?”
This happens to almost everyone. You may feel like you’ve checked off everything on your to-do list, but now your brain is prodding you, making you question if you actually did it at all.
The only way to get over this feeling is to grab your cell phone and check your email…
If that scenario resonated with you, or it made you sigh in empathetic frustration, you’re not alone. Email anxiety is a real problem many professionals face. But luckily I know the easiest way to take control of your email.
And it only takes three simple steps…
1. Have a Game Plan
What do you do when you have a big project ahead of you? Do you just blindly go into it and hope for the best?
You set up a game plan. You get the vital information necessary to accomplish the task at hand. There’s no point in doing work if it isn’t going to yield the desired results. You need to know your end goal, or it’s just wasted time.
Therefore, when it comes to email, treat it like any other project. Implement email best practices so that you aren’t flying blind. If you know the steps you need to be successful when it comes to inbox management, then you can rest easy knowing you don’t have to get up at midnight and look at a bright screen just to make sure that email got sent.
You already know you sent it.
2. Don’t Use Your Inbox as a Dashboard
Have you ever gone through your Gmail just to get to your drive? Or went to Outlook to get to your calendar?
There’s absolutely no need to do that. All this process does is invite the possibility of more distractions. We already know what happens to us when we see that bolded inbox number go up by 1 (or 2 or 30), and the temptation to drop what we’re doing now and focus on that instead is far too great.
Therefore, bookmark pages, download separate apps, do whatever you need to circumvent your email to get to that application. You’ll find yourself having a much easier time of staying on track and not getting lost down an inbox rabbit hole.
3. Schedule Maintenance
When you’ve driven your car for a while you need to schedule an appointment to get things checked out – oil, tire pressure, brakes, etc. Without these checks, you run the risk of getting into accidents and causing serious harm, or having more expensive repairs down the line.
Having a maintenance routine with your inbox is equally important and necessary.
If we’re not going through our inbox and doing our own maintenance such as deleting junk, moving the appropriate emails to the appropriate folders, and following up on emails that need our attention, then we run the risk of harming our career, or worse, our sanity.
That’s why you want to be proactive, just like with your car, and apply a maintenance routine or schedule to your inbox. The best practice would be to sort and move emails in the moment as you determine when they’re spam, important enough to save, or critical enough to respond to. However, when best practices aren’t realistic, ensuring you’re applying a maintenance strategy to your inbox at least weekly is encouraged so you can sleep without those pesky thoughts impeding your ability to fall asleep.
By keeping these three things in mind, you’ll have an easier time controlling your email. You’ll no longer have those moments of waking up in a cold sweat, nor will you justify getting up to check your emails because you “can’t sleep anyway, so might as well…”
Now, go get those well-deserved Z’s, you earned it.
Want an even deeper clean? Want to learn the secrets to mastering your inbox maintenance schedule? Know someone else who could use some help in that department?
I got your back.
This complimentary 45-minute webinar will help you learn how to feel in control of your inbox, be more responsive to important collaborators, and reduce your anxiety and stress. Tame the Email Beast….ARTT™ demonstrates time-saving techniques within Outlook primarily; however, the concept is platform-agnostic. It’s about teaching your human habits connected to technology (whether Outlook, Gmail, or AOL Mail…ok, nobody uses AOL Mail anymore, right?).
Register for your favorite date today and I look forward to having you at the program.