Yaniv Masjedi, Vice President of Marketing for Nextiva, contributed this article to BusinessNewsDaily's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.
Email is the bane of everyone's existence. Everyone's. When is the last time you checked your email? Less than 30 seconds ago? Twice since you began reading this sentence? You are not alone. Up until about six months ago, I was a prisoner to email. I checked it during meetings. I checked it while out to dinner, at breakfast, in the middle of the night. You get the idea. I was chained to my computer/smart phone. It was hard to get anything done.
I knew this behavior was unhealthy both personally and professionally, so I decided to change. These days, I feel so much freer (and more productive, I might add). Here's how I did it.
Most small business executives/owners are inundated with email on a daily basis. I (conservatively) receive around 400 emails per day. Most of these are not spam; they are must-read messages from customers, vendors, partners and employees. All of them need my time and attention. I believe every email deserves a response in 24 hours or less, which can get overwhelming pretty quickly, so I started time blocking.
Every day after my team goes home, I sit down in my office and set a timer for one hour. It is during that hour that I go through every email from the day — or as many as I can get to before the buzzer goes off. I find that time flies by and emails seamlessly evaporate thanks to my intense focus on the task at hand.
When one hour isn't enough, I set another timer when I get home and repeat the process there. The key to time blocking is the absence of distraction. My office (after-hours) and home are quiet places for me. Coffee shops and libraries may work better for you. Test a few different locations and times of day before establishing a routine.
While I utilize email time blocking on a daily basis, I also do it weekly. Every Sunday evening I sit down for a few hours and go through my last week of emails. This can be a daunting task, but I find that it can go quickly with practice and helps to remind me of the happenings over the last week.
Using an app
Email applications/software programs can be lifesavers for small business owners. After searching for the perfect program, I found SaneBox and am in love. (Disclaimer: I have no connection to the company and am not paid to promote the service.)
Here's how it works: You sign up for SaneBox and link it to your email account. From there, the program crawls your email history and splits your emails into two separate folders — important and unimportant. The program determines the importance of an email based on various metrics such as frequent conversations and key words.
I owe the people at SaneBox a huge thank you. Because of them, I see only top priority emails during the day, which keeps my stress level low and increases my production. I check my 'less important' email inbox a few times throughout the day to see if the app missed anything essential.
I recommend giving these ideas a try — you will see your productivity soar in no time.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher.