Establishing Email Rules

I have noticed recently that people either establish rules for themselves for how they deal with email, or they follow someone else’s rules (like their employer’s), or they have no rules.

Have you ever received an email from someone, and then received another email within the hour asking why you haven’t responded to the first? And another, and another?

In my work, I am usually out of my office most of the time. So my rules for myself include checking my email only twice a day – once in the morning, and again at the end of the day. And, I don’t carry any kind of mobile email device. If people need to reach me quickly, they have my cell phone number and can leave me a voicemail (which gets checked far more frequently than email).

I heard Tim Ferriss say recently (on his blog) that we need to stop treating our email as if it were instant messaging. That comment really struck me – and I could see the extent to which it was true. And most of the people I know who were relating to their email that way are the same ones who often say how busy they are all the time, and yet never seem to be able to get anything done.

Here’s an experiment – see if you can deal with your email twice a day this week, rather than reading each one as it comes in. For those of you with electronic email devices (Blackberrys, Trios, etc.) this may mean turning off the sound or vibration notifier.

The world will not come to an end. And, you might be able to get something done…