Freedom from the Email Monster

email charter

It’s time to start a brand New Year, with new ideas and great plans for the future. One area I constantly struggle with is the amount of time I spend reading, composing, and responding to emails.

I recently read a blog post about reducing the time spent answering emails by posting the answers instead to a blog: http://blog.jonudell.net/2007/04/10/too-busy-to-blog-count-your-keystrokes. I really like this post by Jon Udall, arguing that you are not to busy to blog if you transform how you deal with email.

Gina Trapani (Lifehacker.com founder and certifiable geek genius) says we waste too much time on email and tells us to avoid using it if at all possible. Her ideas range from very simple email etiquette (don’t write a two word reply, such as “thank you”) to a strict schedule of when to open your email (just a couple of times a day) and then how to respond to them. Cleaning out her email inbox is a daily habit, and one that I follow as well.

I really like this Email Charter http://emailcharter.org/index.html 10 Rules to Reverse the Email Spiral. Read through it and see if you have violated any of these rules. I will try to obey this charter!

So, what will I do this New Year to reduce time spent on email and actually be more productive in my work and play? Here are my 5 tips:

  1. First of all, I have weeded through and removed myself from most of my email subscription lists, using my feed reader instead when I feel like getting updates.
  2. Second, I only visit my email two times a day–once at 10 am and the other at 3 pm. And weekends, I avoid email.
  3. Third, I respond quickly and courteously to important emails that require very little thought and put ones that require more than two minutes time in my Gmail Tasks list. I try to remember to go back to this Task list in a day or so to work on those longer replies.
  4. Fourth, I empty out my email every time I visit it, archiving all messages after doing my quick responses or adding emails to my Tasks list.
  5. And fifth, I will post responses to many of my students’ emails in my blog, posting important information that might be useful to other students in the class. I will simply copy and paste the link to the blog post in my email response and include the acronym NNTR (No reed to respond.) Not only will this save me a ton of time, but will keep adding relevant and useful content to my blog. Two birds with one stone.

I’ll let you know how it goes this semester, but I’m thinking this is a great plan and step toward freeing me from the email monster.

Look for more blog posts this semester.

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2 thoughts on “Freedom from the Email Monster

  1. I love this! I wonder in Moodle, a secured environment, if it is possible to subscribe to a forum using RSS. I don’t like my crowded inbox full of every move that my classmates make, but I also don’t want to miss anything. It’s kind of a pain clicking through every message in the forum just to make sure I’ve seen them all. Maybe one day Moodle will keep track of read messages? I’m thinking I’ll just unsubscribe to all of them and log in to Moodle when I’m ready to dive in and read everyone’s messages. Hmmm…

    Like

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