Hack Back Email, The Incrementalist, Ep. 16

Do you get stressed out by the sheer number of emails in your inbox?

Are you checking and responding to emails when you really need to be doing your core work?

Do you get anxious if you don’t respond right away to customers, clients, colleagues, coworkers, friends?

Are you switching to emails when you feel bored, frustrated, or stuck on a project?

Email processing is a repeated behavior and repetitive action.

Email is a habit-forming tool. It’s a key method for communication, collaboration and information sharing. You need to know how to use it to make essential progress without getting sidetracked by other people’s agendas. 

When you’re being responsive and responsible, you can easily slip into reactive mode. You end up neglecting important work that is less urgent but brings more long-term value. 

With the rise in social media, texting, and messaging platforms like Slack, some might say email is dead. But email continues to be alive and well. 

In episode 16 of The Incrementalist podcast, you will learn:

1. Internal triggers (e.g. boredom, anxiety, frustration) and external triggers (e.g. pings and dings) lead to distraction

2. The critical question to ask in deciding whether an external trigger is helpful or not

3. The opposite of distraction is traction

4. Time spent on email = the number of messages received multiplied by the average time spent per message.  T = n x t

5. Seven tips to hack back email –

  • Stop the influx at its source.
  • Process your email, instead of just check, scan or read your email.
  • Block time for batch processing your email.
  • Close out or shut down email when you’re doing focused work. And switch off auto-alerts.
  • Take email off your phone or handheld device.
  • Use proper email etiquette. 
  •  Improve your workflow to reduce back and forth communication. 

6. A dysfunctional workplace – where you are always connected – is the real culprit. Tech overuse creates a vicious cycle of responsiveness, where you have less control over your time, think you need to be always available to get ahead, and set expectations to be always on.

At indistractable organizations, leaders set examples for doing focused work and acknowledge the problems of 24/7 access.

Resources cited: 

To listen to episode 16, Hack Back Email, click here. Subscribe to The Incrementalist at Apple Podcasts or other apps.

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Dyan Williams is a solo lawyer who practices U.S. immigration law and legal ethics at Dyan Williams Law PLLC. She is also a productivity coach who helps working parents, lawyers, small business owners and other busy people turn their ideas into action, reduce overwhelm, and focus on what truly matters. She is the author of The Incrementalist: A Simple Productivity System to Create Big Results in Small Steps


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