Posts tagged E-mail
Save your (brain) cells

People want your attention.

Take a moment and look at your surroundings. If you are outside, there are billboards, vehicle graphics, political yard signs, and sale signs. If you are inside, there are magazine covers, flyers, and reminders. If you are online, there are digital ads, newsletters, mass e-mails, and pop-ups.

Someone wants you to do something or buy something.

There are college degrees, careers and companies whose job is to get one product or person to stand out in front of another.

How does this relate to saving brain cells?

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Save tons of time with your e-mail

Today, I realized I was spending an unnecessary 3 seconds for each e-mail I drafted.

Here was the culprit phrase "Let me know if you have any questions."

In my blog, I have offered different approaches for managing e-mail to prevent it from consuming your work flow.  Add this one to your arsenal.

This week I had a littered inbox, so I asked myself a few questions about my approach to e-mail.
(1) Why am drafting e-mails as if they were going to be published in tomorrow's paper?
(2) Why do I have to cover every single question that has yet to be asked?
(3) Can I draft professional e-mails with fewer words and achieve the same effect?

To keep things simple for this post, I am going to give you a single challenge -- amend your e-mail sign-off.

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Start chunking (and get more done)

As I have stated in prior blogs,  e-mail should never be the first thing you do in the morning.  Even when you diligently follow this rule and recognize the benefits are worthwhile, you can still get stuck.  

Each day, all day long, we complete micro tasks that involve making a decision.  More tasks equals more stress.  When your day involves macro tasks, stress elevates.  The tasks on your to-do list are no longer on the same level.  For example, one day I had 1 task that would take 90 minutes, a handful that would take 30 minutes and several that would take 10 minutes or less.  The 90-minute task required full attention and was intellectually challenging.  A few of the 10-minute tasks were also intellectually challenging.  Sprinkled in were follow-up calls and basic document drafting.  



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Being a peaceful person

This week my e-mails have been like no other week.  I try to follow my own rule and avoid sending out content in an e-mail that will trigger an emotional response.  I make a phone call instead or ask to schedule a meeting to talk in person if I need to cover multiple issues.  When I get an emotionally-charged e-mail, my rule is the same.  Call them to answer their questions or ask to schedule a meeting to review their questions or concerns.

I still catch myself wanting (sometimes desperately) to respond to the emotional e-mail because I can respond to the problem quicker, on my own time, have time to craft the "perfect" response and avoid an uncomfortable conversation.  Even so, sometimes I am wrong on what is and what is not an emotional-trigger e-mail; something that, to me, seemed like a status update or a discussion of procedure.  Twice this week, I was wrong.

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Learn to say "I don't give out my e-mail address"

You know the drill - you go to pay for something at a retail store and they ask for your phone number or zip code or e-mail address.  They ask the question like it is the most natural thing in the world.  They imply that your transaction won't happen unless you provide this information.  They expect that you won't question their motives and won't engage in anything confrontational related to their question.

It is getting worse; I don't know if there was a national memo to all the retailers of America but when I was shopping in the Plaza in Kansas City a store clerk asked for an entire profile before you got to give them money for the sale - full name, address, e-mail and phone number.  I heard my friend reply with all of this information and it was everything I could do to not yell "stop giving away your privacy".  I was up next.

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Protect your inbox

E-mail has evolved to the point of being able to be your free secretary.  Yet, it is easy to view it as one size fits all.  I think this happens because no one tells you how to manage your e-mail (other than when you've exceeded capacity).  

Today, I'm going to share a theme that will be a common denominator for my blogs on time management.  "Protect your time."  

There are more blogs and books for how to manage your e-mail than minutes of the day.  To stay true to my theme of "Protect your time" I am asking you today to "Protect your inbox".

If you opened your inbox right now (because it should be closed so you can get work done), there are likely several e-mails that include addressees of more than just you.  Examples are newsletters, listservs, advertisements, promotions, blog notices, Facebook notices - you get the picture.

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Why it's a bad idea to always have your e-mail open

It's the end of the day.  You look at your to-do list.  It looks the same as the beginning of the day. How can that be the case when you worked your tail off all day?  And you recorded billable time so its apparent you were doing focused work.  

A common cause to the untamed to-do list is being in response mode.  An easy way to fall prey to that is to be ready, willing, and able to respond to e-mail at any given time of your office hours.  There is certainly a reason for doing this; it shows people (clients, other attorneys, the managing partner) that you provide good service, you respond quickly and are available when they need you.

The biggest trade-off I see with this is that you can rarely advance your cases by using e-mail as your vehicle for accomplishing the goals for your client.  Even if you are providing answers, updates, or counseling it will mean little in the long run if you aren't moving closer to the closing the case.

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Hope WoodE-mail, Priorities