It's becoming a big problem these days. So much so that there's a Money Programme special tonight on BBC2 at 7.00pm - Email Is Ruining My Life.
two million emails are sent every second; 62 per cent of us check work emails when we're at home or on holiday; and in the UK, a third of office workers suffer from "email stress". It's pretty obvious that the technology is hugely beneficial to the workforce, but paperless communication needs to be controlled (rather than having it control us).
Is email a problem for you? Do you waste time on your emails rather than actually getting on with more important work? Are you checking your email constantly throughout the day?
- My first bit of advice is to switch off the email alert so that it's not pinging or flashing at you every time an email comes into your inbox.
- Set the mailbox options to only check for new messages periodically. That way, there's less distraction wondering what's come in during the last five minutes.
- Only check your emails two or three times a day. Unless you need to respond instantly to customers as soon as an email hits your inbox (unlikely), you really only need to check your inbox a couple of times a day, morning and afternoon. Do it AFTER you've achieved your first important task of the day. That way you're less likely to get distracted early on in the day.
- Create folders and filters to organise your incoming mail - automatically sort mail into the appropriate folder by subject or sender as it comes in, so you can easily see what's important and what's not.
- When you do check emails - set aside a specific time to do this - 15-20 minutes at a time. Don't jump straight in and start responding to the first one. Take a few minutes to sort them into urgent/action, non-urgent and reading. If you can't deal with an email straight away, schedule time to deal with it later.
Plan your time for emails in the same way you plan the rest of your time and it doesn't have to ruin your life!
If you miss the programme you can always read more tips on managing your email on my website.