How IT Managers Can Reduce The Number Of Emails That They Receive

In order to get ahead of your emails, you have to reduce the number that you receive
In order to get ahead of your emails, you have to reduce the number that you receive
Image Credit: Carlos García Torrado

Do you remember the last time that you went on a vacation? I’m willing to bet that just like your IT manager training taught you, you configured your email to tell everyone that you’d be out of the office for a while and they really should not send you any emails. However, despite doing that I’m also willing to bet you that when you came back to work your email inbox was overflowing and despite all of your IT manager skills it occupied your life for the next few days. This sure seems like a waste. If only there was some way to reduce the amount of email that you receive every day…

Making A Hard Decision

If you want to reduce the amount of email that you get, there has to be a reason that you want to accomplish this. In most cases, it’s because we’re spending too much time reading email. The right way to go about starting this process is to make a personal decision to limit the amount of time each day that you are going to be willing to spend dealing with email.

Let’s face it – this can be a very difficult thing to do. In my case, I took a look at my schedule and I decided that I wanted to spend only about two hours or so each day wadding through my email inbox. Now I understood how I work and so I then had to make some additional decisions about how those two hours would be laid out. I decided to have two blocks of just under an hour each day that I would dedicate to processing email. I would also allow myself the opportunity to quickly check email throughout the day (4 times). This process seems to work for me.

Automatically Reducing Your Email

All modern email systems come with sophisticated tools that allow us to automatically evaluate each piece of email that we receive. Although most of us probably have not taken the time to really dive into just exactly how to set up these automated tools, it turns out that spending the time to learn how they work just might be well worth our time. Any email that we don’t have to look at will help us to be more productive.

Just about every email system out there comes with its own set of rules and filters. Your goal for using these will be to reduce the amount of email that shows up waiting for you in your inbox. The way that these tools work is to scan your incoming email for specific keywords and then when a keyword is found to then move the incoming email to a specific email folder on your system. You’ll need to create a personal plan for when you want to check these other folders. I would suggest that some should be checked once per day, some once per week, and others whenever you get a chance.

Training Others

The email that is being sent to you and causing your email inbox to overflow is generally coming from a limited set of people. An important part of once again taking control of your inbox is to educate these people on what they should be sending to you and when they should be sending it. What you are really going to want to do is to get them to send you less email!

Since you will now be using email filters, you need to let the people who will be sending you email know that if they are not careful, you may not see their email for a while. You should come to an agreement with everyone regarding how they can send you and email that will get your attention. They also have to be aware of the other ways that they can get in touch with you: Facebook, Twitter, or text messages. These types of exchanges are less formal, generally shorter, and don’t demand as much of your time as email can. Using these tools you’ll still be reachable and your email inbox won’t overflow.

What All Of This Means For You

Your relationship with your email inbox is generally based on just how overflowing it currently is. Since right now everyone feels the need to include us on every email that they send out, we are currently getting too many emails. We need to do something to reduce the number of emails that end up in our inbox.

The first step in taking charge of our email life is to make an agreement with our self as to just exactly how much time we are going to spend each day working on email. This should probably consist of two blocks of time with a few quick checks sprinkled in there. The next thing that you need to do is to study your email system and learn how it’s filters and rules work. This will allow your email system to automatically scan all of the email that has been sent to you and place received email in separate folders that you can review at different times. Finally, you need to educate the people who are sending you emails as to when and how they should send you emails. Let them know that their emails will be filtered, how they can get their emails through your filters, and if you are willing to interact with them on other channels like Facebook, Twitter, and instant messaging.

Email is a critical part of the modern workplace – it’s how we stay on top of everything that is going on. However, as with all good things in life it is entirely possible to get too much email sent to us. When we look at our email inbox and it is overflowing, that’s when we know that we have a problem. We need to take steps to manage our email so that we can have the time to pay attention to the emails that are really important and get back to doing some real IT team building!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: What would be the best way to educate the people who send you emails to send you fewer emails?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Ok, so I’m willing to confess to this crime. I really like the website Reddit and, if left to my own devices, there is a good chance that I could spend way too much time during a day exploring the various nooks and subreddits on this site. As an IT manager, you are probably facing the same problem. How many times have you walked in on your team only to find them all huddled around someone’s monitor watching the latest Star Wars trailer or a funny prank that got played on someone. Doesn’t anyone do any work here anymore?

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