Are you a victim of the biggest time bandit ever? Most people don’t even realize that hours every week are being stolen from their already tight schedules. What is it that is literally robbing you of one of your most precious assets?


Think about how many times a day you log in and check your email. That’s just logging in time and scanning to see if you need to deal with anything right away.  You know, those “emergencies” we have to respond to immediately even though we are not doctors of medicine.  Assume on average every time you do, it takes 3 minutes.  Now assume you check in 10 times a day – that’s a half an hour out of your day.  If you check in to 20 times a day you’re killing a full hour.  So weekly its 2.5 to 5 hours. With an average of 4.2 weeks per month, that’s 10.5 to 21 hours per month.

Needless to say, if your business depends on orders coming in from email, you must check it and handle these orders immediately. However, if you don’t do significant business on the internet, then here are a few hints to make you more efficient:

1. Check your email no more than three times a day. If someone has an emergency, they will call you.

2. Sort out the “must responds” from the “follow up laters.” Respond to the most pressing emails, but make them short.

3. Follow up with the others right before you go home for the day. At that time, you will be very motivated to do this quickly.

It is a good idea to have several folders in your email to handle the different types of correspondence you receive. For instance, you may have a personal folder for all the non-business related e-mails. An admin folder will help keep non-client or customer-related emails separate. A client folder for each client may be needed to track that correspondence. The red follow up flag can be used to mark emails that need additional follow-up, but can wait. A reminder can be attached to this so when the deadline is approaching, you know the follow-up must be completed.

Just for a few days, keep track of how many times you check your email. Keep a piece of paper (electronic or hard copy) next to your computer, and make a tick mark every time you log in to check messages and record an estimate of how long it takes each time. You will be very surprised at how many times a day you do this. Take this number and multiply it by your average time per log in. I bet that it’s a lot of time.  Getting control of this can mean increased productivity for you and your business.

Breaking the email habit can take a while. Stick with it. You will see your efficiency increase significantly.

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