Time Management

Is email driving you crazy?

March 13, 2009

ComputerGuy2 That’s what they call a rhetorical question – according to Webster’s “a question to which only one answer may be made.” And I know the answer to this question is a resounding, YES! Every lawyer I talk to is driven to distraction by email. – Too many, not enough time to deal with them, an overflowing inbox. One tip: Your inbox is not your to do list. It’s not the place to leave emails thinking, “I’ll get to that later.” If you treat your inbox like your to do list, you’ll soon have hundreds (dare I say thousands?) of emails staring at you each morning just screaming for your attention. Instead, create folders that work for you. Create folders for each client, with sub-folders for specific matters or projects. You may also want to create folders for administrative tasks, volunteer or bar association work, and other projects. And for each email in your inbox decide whether to: 1) Do it – Answer it, if you can “do it” in two minutes or less. 2) Defer it – If it is something that requires more thought or research, file it in an appropriate folder for follow-up. 3) Delegate it – If it is something someone else can handle for you, then delegate it. 4) Delete it! Block time to work through your inbox applying these rules. I like to refer to this block & tackle time as “trashing my inbox” because that’s where so many emails land. Then set a magic number for yourself: “No more than 15 (or some other relatively low number) emails in my inbox.” Of course, sometimes (most days) you’ll exceed this. But make it your goal to get back to 15 as soon as you can, and don’t let email creep take over your inbox. Block at least one hour each week to trash your inbox. Make it a game, and reward yourself with something fun when you back to your magic number.

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