7 steps to become the ruler of your inbox

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My last blog coped with the topic of quality minimization of manager´s work due to their need to be available 24/7 and response as quickly as possible. People are therefore predestinated to miss the big picture. During the financial crisis, several analyses were brought up which stated that a Managers primarily aim is to respond quickly to the competition. That leads to problems when it comes to the specifications or future predictions about a deal. Why?

Because they are focusing too much on the current issues and those are, the upcoming messages on their electronic devices. As Will Huton, chair of a big innovation centre,puts it:

“It’s bad for the individual worker’s performance being online and available 24-7. You do need downtime, you do need periods in which you can actually reflect on something without needing instantaneously to give a reaction.”

Just take a look at the Business E-Mail statistic record of Sara Radicati from 2011 until 2015. In 2012, ca. 110 e-mails are sent/receiver per day, per user. Who can focus on his work when 110 e-mails are incoming every day? That`s the reason why I try to give helpful strategies to prevent and avoid these dangers, so that you can claim some day: ” I control my inbox and not the other way around!”

Do what you would be done.

The more traffic you put on a network and the more people you involve, the more messages you should expect in return. Hold back from sending some messages until you have considered and reconsidered whether you really have something to say and especially who REALLY needs to read it. So, if you´re complaining about the amount of mails you receive that don´t content useful information for you, firstly think of the people in your distribution list…

Split your inbox.

Often executives have more than one e-mail address. One for intern messages, one for customers and a private one. That does not appear seldom. And that actually is very important. It helps you to keep a better overview over all your messages. It´s easier to decide which messages need to be taken care of immediately and which ones can wait. Maybe you can respond to one of your colleagues in person and swing by in his office with a cup of coffee?

Prioritize.

That is a skill I learned during the Business Application Course at my University. As we were overloaded by work from our professor the real challenge was to prioritize on the real important tasks. He always reminded us: Do what you can, and don´t spent too much of your valuable time on issues which are random. And if you do so, ASK FOR HELP! No matter if you´re a successful manager or a poor student, exchange information and don´t fight on your own!

Check out your inbox tools.

There are people who are updating their twitter or facebook status every hour. But when it is about setting a status for their e-mail account they look at you like “what?!?”. Only few individuals take full advantage of these tools, most e-mail client programs have integrated mechanisms, such as filters and rules, for regulating and organizing information flow. Status messages, such as “out of office” notices, can manage others’ expectations. Even the phone apps, like Whatsapp or kakaotalk, give you the chance to set up a status. If you also use these apps to communicate for business purposes, pay attention that you deactivate the “last seen” function!

Danah-Boyd Model.

Have you ever heard of Danah Boyd? She is an executive of Microsoft. Stressed out from all the pressure and an always-full-inbox she decided to declare a periodically e-mail time-out and breaks up all electronic communication for two weeks!

That is pretty extreme, so try to find your own time frame. Use your email status or an online calendar where you announce your “online-hours” or days. During these times, you can turn on your “out of office” note to let people know that your response may be delayed…for the 20  percent of messages that may actually need a response.

Volkswagen Model.

Meanwhile even companies noticed that the E-mail load is overwhelming its employees. Therefore the carproducer Volkswagen invented a countermeasure. Via an off-button on each employee´s blackberry it automatically shuts down all e-mail traffic on their phones. That helps it´s employees to get into non-work-mode more easily. Read an interesting article about it on BBC.

Shut it down.

When all else fails, remember that you have an actual turn off button on every one of these electronic devices, even if it takes you some time to figure out where it is =) It seems hard, the poor device. But you have to make it part of your management routine to succeed.

These are all significant steps, and none of them are easy. They require saying no to forces that, consciously or unconsciously, assume that you will always be available. You have a choice: Will you control technology so that it works for you, or will you let it undermine your practice of management? It all depends on how much attention you are willing to pay to your habits: the way they are now, and the way they ought to be. And remember, you can always shut it down!

“OUT OF OFFICE, SORRY!”

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