Welcome back to day 2 of our 5-day email challenge.
(In case you missed day 1, go here.)
There are thousands of fellow AE fans from all across the world taking this challenge. We’re here to help you cut your email time in half and we’re excited to have you with us.
During the week, we will be posting one new tip each day to help you cut down your email time in half. By Friday, you’ll know how to spend less time in your inbox and more time doing the things that really matter to you.
The depressing trend of email addiction
As I mentioned yesterday, there’s a digital tsunami going on where people all over the world are chained to their inboxes. People are getting dopamine hits from hearing their email clients go off which makes the email addiction even worse.
We want to stop this email addiction. Ideally, you would go cold turkey but we know that’s not sustainable for everyone. What will work is slowly getting you less addicted to your inbox.
It’s hard to imagine that there was a time when people actually looked forward to receiving email. Less than 10 years ago, you didn’t need a system because you didn’t have over 100 new messages a day to wade through.
And the problem is only getting worse. For some people, email is turning into their full-time job. Unbelievable, but true. A recent McKinsey report showed that as much as ¾’s of an information worker’s time is spent on or in email.
With this email challenge, we want to help you cut your email time in half. We’re all overloaded by emails and unless we do something about it, it’ll only get worse. So let’s start this fall on a high note by clearing out the email inbox.
The first step is the one you took yesterday. You recorded how often you checked your inbox. Were you surprised? Maybe even shocked?
We want to use this number as a barometer. The number of times you check email is an indicator whether you’re addicted to email or not.
To put it in perspective, most Asian Efficiency team members don’t check their email more than twice a day. Most us don’t deal with email for more than 30 minutes in a day. This allows us to consistently do deep work, focus and take nights and weekends off for our families and hobbies.
On the other end, we’ve seen people check their email over 100 times. Don’t feel bad if you’re on that spectrum – it’s more common than you think.
Here’s a picture of a sheet of paper of a client who did the same exercise about a year ago with me:
See all the dots? That’s 89 dots. This client, an account manager at a big corporation, checked her email 89 times in a day to stay in touch with her clients. We eventually got it down to four times a day.
The main difference is that she stopped mindlessly checking email or feeling stressed about what might have happened. Whenever she checks her email, she knows exactly what to do and moves on with other important work.
There was no more FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out. It’s this little demon that feeds our habits to mindlessly check email and get a dopamine hit.
Today’s challenge is to slowly quiet that little demon.
Challenge #2: Archive all messages in your inbox older than 30 days in your “Archive” folder
The second step in this the challenge is to archive old emails (anything older than 30 days) to your “Archive” folder. Archiving your past due/spoiled/rotten/overripe/moldy/expired emails will give a manageable number to work with for this challenge.
Why would you want to do this?
We have found, from working with hundreds of people, that emails older than 30 days don’t make any difference. Whether you reply to the email 30 days late or 6 months later, the repercussions are negligible. If it’s important enough to need your attention, the sender will send you another reminder email about it.
Think of this mass archive as stripping the fat so you can get to the core – the truly important emails. They’re the ones that have been sent within the last 30 days. While archiving a heap of emails at once isn’t ideal, it’s important that you set yourself up for success.
This all about having peace of mind that you only have important emails in your inbox. The more peace of mind you have about your inbox, the less you will check it. It’s much easier to stop mindlessly checking your email if you have confidence that you have your inbox under control.
Today’s challenge is a shortcut to help you get that peace of mind by archiving emails older than 30 days. Notice I didn’t say delete your emails – just move them to your archive folder. That way you don’t have to worry about losing anything.
The emails will still be searchable. You’ll be able to quickly locate the archived message if you need it in the future.
We recommend you set up one “Archive” folder and move everything in there. If you’re a Gmail user, you can simply press the “Archive” button to get the same effect without having to create a new folder.
Archiving your 30+ day old emails may not seem like much, but you’ve now set up the foundation for an efficient email processing system (which we will give you in the next couple of days).
Let us know in the comments when you’ve done this and how often you checked email yesterday.
Once you’ve done that, you’re eligible to win one of the prizes:
1. The new Apple Watch (version 3 that just got released last week) ($329 value)
2. Amazon Echo ($180 value)
3. Fitbit Charge 2 ($150 value)
Check back tomorrow for challenge #3.
Update: Day 3 is now available.
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