Monday, March 2, 2020

Experimenting with Email to Boost Productivity

Last week, I decided to further improve how I handle my work emails. After trying different things and daily reflection, here's what I found:
  • To minimize distractions from emails, finish MIT #1 first thing in the morning before even looking at my emails. That fresh mind early in the morning is just too precious to waste on emails!
  • Rethink how I define email productivity. The mistake we all tend to make is using how fast you tackle your emails as the success metric. And that is wrong. Email, in its essence, is a tool. The goal is to tackle a work issue in an effective manner, not to processing email in a speedy fashion. Therefore, before hitting reply button, I ask myself, what am I trying to achieve here? Is there a better way to do it? Can I reach out via Skype? Can I walk over to that person's desk? Can I maybe batch several topics to discuss with her in our next 1:1?
  • Finally, this one takes me a few days to realize. I was so determined not to let emails take over my time, so I purposely ignore the dozens of unread emails. This creates lots of mental stress. What I could have done, is just to sit down and spend an hour or two going through them. 
After this week's little experiment, I certainly feel more in control of emails. But it's a progress. I will continue to observe what best works for me and use emails more effectively to boost work productivity.

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