Many books have been written and chapters have been monopolized for time management. One of the most popular,m aybe even the most popular, procrastination activity of all times is reading and sending e-mails.
Sure, you can do your best to avoid scam. You can warn your friends against sending you weird chain emails that mean well but end up being nothing but time-wasters. You know those emails. It can be a collection of funny cartoons or jokes, or much worse, an e-mail in the form of a story or a greeting card that urges you to forward to as many people as you can.
I don’t get those emails often anymore, and I immediately delete the ones I get. But managing your inbox doesn’t end there. You have work e-mails, e-mails from friends, newsletters, notifications, offers and more.
Ideally, your work e-mail and personal e-mail are two separate accounts. In this day and age, one email isn’t sufficient, especially if you are a freelancer.
But what about those newsletters? If you are working online, there is a big chance you want to keep up with the industry. You need to follow blogs. You updated need information. So you sign up for newsletters. You sign up for free e-books. But of course after signing up for 40 newsletters (it can and should happen if you are educating yourself in specific areas). But keeping up with the information you are receiving is a challenging activity. What you should do is to create many relevant folders so that you can store different things separately and you can return to them whenever you need.
Of course it doesn’t end here. You might also have chosen to be notified when someone comments on a blog post or article you commented upon. Someone might have commented on your article or blog. You need to keep up with these as well.
Timothy Ferriss is an established entrepreneur and blogger who tells you how to deal with all the distractions in your life in his book The 4-Hour WorkWeek. As the title suggests, the book is all about reducing your work week to a mere 4 hours. That’s right, not even your work day but your work week! It sounds implausible but he talks about everything in step-by-step detail. It is possible.
However, I am pretty sure I spend at least 4 hours a week, just checking and reading my emails. He suggests that you should only check your email only twice a day- once in the morning and once in the afternoon. And obviously he is talking about being done with the task quickly and efficiently. It is good advice but one we struggle at keeping. Surely, it can be done. But it does takes patience, effort, and an e-mail checking diet. After all, which writer doesn’t want to see if she has published her recent article or heard from that publisher?
We writers do in fact have many work-related and significant reasons to have a love affair with our email accounts. But we can and should work on cutting the habit and maximizing our productivity. Organizing our e–mails, and not spending more than enough time on them, are good starting points to stop the e-mails from turning us into procrastinators.