A recent article in USA Today addressed the electronic “communications overload” that we are facing in our society today. This is a growing concern for our businesses where, according to the article, they receive more than 110 messages a day and the interruptions result in a yearly loss of $650 billion.
One of the basic decisions you face in your business as well as in your home is how to handle the e-mail that comes your way. “You’ve Got Mail” use to be a welcomed greeting; but now you not only receive important information but also spam, solicitations, and everyone on your Christmas card list sending you the latest joke, cartoon or inspirational story. You need a system to quickly – and correctly – handle all those messages.
How about TAPS?
- Toss it. This is the first selection because, according to the experts, more than half of our e-mails can be immediately sent to the wastebasket. You might not even have to open it but simply make the decision based on the sender and subject. If the message is not pertinent to a current project or it is not required to be kept, get rid of it – quickly; don’t let it waste your valuable time.
- Act on it. The old model of paper efficiency is the same with e-mail: handle it once. Does the message call for action; then do it right away – if it can be done in less than two minutes! Why “save” the message and come back to it later when an immediate reply or quick phone call is all it takes to be done with it. Again, the experts say this accounts for another third of our e-mail messages.
- Pass it on. The action required may be better suited for another team member or office personnel – or even your spouse (if at home). If so, forward the message to them – immediately. It will only burn more of your time if you have to track down the post and then pass it on. (Be careful; your spouse may prefer to talk with your directly, rather than though e-mai!)
- Schedule it. If the e-mail does not fit into the above categories, that is, it is something you have to handle but cannot do it immediately, file it away into the appropriate e-mail folder AND put it on your calendar/to-do-list. (Some software programs let you drag the e-mail right to your calendar or action list.) Make the posting so clear that you do not have to refer to the original e-mail again.
If you have a backlog of hundreds (!) of e-mails, it may take you some time to TAPS them, but setting time aside every day to effectively and efficiently handle your e-mails will be a great time saver for you and your business.
For twenty-five years Joe C. Fairchild was a public speaker, counselor, and “life-coach.” He has worked with individuals and both small and large groups. Currently semi-retired he is pursuing a life-long interest in writing. Read more of his blogs at CommunicationsJobsBlog.net.