Content is written by Rev. Micah James, CCA
If your email box looks like mine these days, it is full of a combination of junk, spam, important, urgent, resources, and other information. When emails come at you a mile-a-minute, what are you to do? How are you to process the important from the urgent? How are you to file away some and delete others? Here are some tips and tricks for dealing with the monster that is email…
- Ask yourself an important question – is it necessary to have email on all the time? Email can be a perpetual distraction to focused work and to deal with email in a piecemeal way can also lead us to an unfocused approach to understanding the messages true priority and urgency. If we respond to every ding of our inbox, we might have a propensity to give a message a priority or an urgency that it may not require. Consider dealing with email at set times of the day. This way you can see the bigger picture of what is happening in your work compared to dealing with the messages at one by one. This will allow you to give them the proper attention (or not) they deserve.
- Find a method – My preferred method of dealing with email is based on David Allen’s, “Getting Things Done” workflow, but you can mind your own way of dealing with email. But you need to find a way of handling email and stick to it! Constantly changing methods and not constantly dealing with our inbox is one of the ways that the email-monster becomes unruly. Find a method and work the system regularly. This will be your greatest weapon in winning the fight against email.
- Communicate your email boundaries with your colleague and with your community – For a while in my ministry, my email signature had a simple statement that said, “if you need a reply in less than an hour please call the office.” It was a simple signal to those in my new community that email was a slow form of communication and that I would not be standing by my email all day. Whatever your boundaries may be, you have to communicate them. If you do not communicate them, they will not be effective. An uncommunicated expectation simply creates frustration.
- Schedule time to deal with it – Whether you have a time daily or weekly to deal with your email, put it on your calendar! If you don’t put it on your calendar, it will not be a priority and you will forget or schedule something else in its place. You have to make time for the systems that keep your work flowing efficiently. Mark email on your calendar.
Email can be a wonderful tool for our ministry if we use it to our benefit and do not allow it to become overwhelming. Let me know what tools you use to tame the email-monster in the comments below.