I am fed up with work email.
I am up to my eyeballs in email.
I am now working out of my inbox. BTW, that is NOT multi-tasking, that’s being interrupt-driven. Email comes in and I feel obligated to handle it immediately.
This is partially my own fault, for keeping Notes open and up front all day long, but I believe as a culture, we’ve come to expect this kind of behavior.
I’m a pointy-headed manager, and I can’t give up email entirely, like Luis did.
But I can take a few steps to liberate myself from the ball and chain that is email, and at the same time, reset some expectations.
Here’s a first shot – this is a work in progress and I’d love suggestions on further steps or clarifications.
Premise #1: Email will be processed a few times each day, NOT all day.
I will be processing email first thing in the work day, at lunchtime, and at the end of my working day (4pm). I MAY check email at other times of the day or night, but that is totally at my discretion. If you send an email after 4pm, the likelihood is that I won’t read it til the next day. If it is urgent, call or sametime.
Premise #2: No project-based email should be sent. Ever.
I don’t want to receive email about any current project. I don’t want status, meeting minutes, meeting agendas, documents or project discussions and collateral residing in my inbox. They belong in a collaborative workspace … wikis, teamrooms, blogs.
Premise #3: I don’t/can’t answer every email.
I receive hundreds of emails every. single. day. Hundreds. I don’t have a secretary or a personal assistant. This means I work in triage mode, like M*A*S*H. If you need an acknowledgment that I have received your email, use the return receipt feature in Notes. Likewise, if you need something done by a specific date, let me know what that date is, and then don’t bother me, or my boss, until/unless the date has passed.
Or am I out of line here? Is every request due an acknowledgment of receipt? A “yes, I got your email and I’m working it?” God, I hope not.
That’s it for now.
I have more, but my lunch hour is almost over, and I still need to check email.
I’ll let you know how it goes.