Email. For most of my professional life I’ve been Doing It Wrong. #fail
I mean, remember when it used to be exciting to get a little piece of electronic mail?? Now, most of us can barely keep our heads above our inbox, drowning in So Many Important Things. And then there’s all those cat memes…
And while I’ll never be able to fold a fitted sheet, or change those tricky little down lights (like I need them. That’s why God invented lamps), or separate an egg without getting shell everywhere, there’s one life skill that I did manage to figure out, and that’s email.
Inbox. I’m owning your ass. And here’s a few little trixy secrets on how I’m doing it.
Unsubscribe. No exceptions.
I’m basically a marketer’s worst nightmare. I don’t sign up for a single damn list. Because, distracting.
How? Wuh-ell. It does take a little bit of elbow grease. I protect my email in basically the same way as the Unsullied draw arms anytime someone even looks sideways at Daenerys. (and if that analogy has you scratching your head, then we probs aren’t going to be BFF’s anytime soon #justsaying). I don’t sign up for lists. Make sure to uncheck the ‘Sign me up for regular updates’ box anytime I need to set up an account and if a lone warrior doth manage to wrangle his way in, I take the time to scroll to the bottom to find the sweet, sweet, unsubscribe button. Trust me. Like weeds, these bad boys are ever so much to deal with one at a time when they crop up…
But Em, how do you stay up to date with all the latest news on social media/online cool thingos/Game of Thrones fan theories? Excellent question.
Twitter, mostly. But Feedly helps too. That way, I can log in and check out all the latest news and goss (mostly work, online social things. Sometimes who looked hideous on the latest red carpet and should fire their stylist immediately) when I have a spare 15 minutes, not whenever the email decides to plonk itself into my inbox with that distracting little ding, drawing my focus away from whatever I’m working away diligently on, and lets be honest, if it’s budgets, you don’t even need a sassy subject line…
Try it. I dare you. It’s strangely liberating to press defiantly on that ‘yes, I’m sure’ box when the splash page tries to make really, actually, for reals, sure that you want off the Very Important Brand Stuff We’re Trying To Sell You list.
Wake up. Clean up. Start your day smug.
Full disclosure, friends. This method ain’t for everyone. There’s so many well meaning blogs banging on about how we shouldn’t be connected 24/7/the iPhone shouldn’t be used first thing in the morning/don’t start your day with technology, yada mindfulness yada yada your mind is a temple hashtag breathe. Fine. Great for them.
And while the zen zero-tech approach might be the best way to a happy heart for some of you, for me, there’s nothing better than breezing into work each morning feeling like I’m all over it, mmm-hmmm. *snaps fingers*
Cleaning out my inbox is basically another check box item on my morning to-do list, right after making my bed and inhaling a small South American nation’s worth of coffee. It takes no longer than 5 minutes. I delete all the pointless (seriously, what is with the ‘great, thanks Em!’ replies? Can we just agree that I will assume you’re thankful for whatever the hell I’ve just sent you, unless told otherwise? Great. We can all move on with 36.8GB smaller inboxes each week…), reply to anything that only requires a quick answer (read: I actually know the answer to before my second coffee) and know if there’s anything ‘the-world-will-actually-end-if-you-don’t-deal-with-this-very-right-now’ waiting, like a nasty little surprise email bomb, ready to demolish my peaceful morning back to the stone ages.
I walk into work with only things I need to do waiting for me. Which leads me to my next point…
I then don’t look at my emails for the first hour at work.
Say whhhhaaaaaa?? I know. Complete and utter madness, right? But put your hands up if you’ve ever opened your email first thing in the morning and then somehow it’s midday and all you’ve basically done is replied to emails and lets be really honest, you’re sitting at around a 46% reply rate, so even that is a half assed effort? (Oh, put your hands up. We’ve all been there.)
But by cracking straight into Actual Real Things, I can actually get stuck into my day, rather than get sucked into the Email Reading and Replying vortex, which everyone knows is only slightly less suck-y than the BuzzFeed ’26 Reasons Why Your 20’s Are Exactly Like Sex and The City’ vortex. And then when I do come back to clear the decks, I’m in full swing ‘doing sh*t’ mode and so replies are usually with a load more hustle.
Unless you’re a Email Reading Manager, and then the aforementioned email reading is probs your ‘Actual Real Things’, so in that case, carry on.
File. Like your life depends on it.
My archiving system could basically win some sort of Academy Award, folks. I’ve got more folders than Paris Hilton has teeny tiny dogs. (which I’m lead to believe is a lot, though in all honesty, I’m not really an expert on Hilton Dog Ownership…)
Nothing, and I repeat nothing (just so y’all know I’m super serious), stays in my inbox if it doesn’t need me to do something with it. If I’ve replied, actioned, baked the cupcakes you’ve asked for – it’s filed or deleted. No exceptions.
4,362 emails in my inbox equals cold sweats and an extended coffee break because that’s just way, way too hard to deal with and I seriously have no idea if there’s anything in there of any importance. 43 emails makes me feel like I could kind of run a country – you know, Tones, if you wanted to take a holiday or a nap or something…