This article is not directly related to investing but it is something that effects all of us.
Time is arguably our most precious resource. You cannot buy it, store it or turn it back. And once we are born it starts running out for all of us.
For this reason I am always on the lookout for tools and strategies to save you time.
Email is a wonderful invention. It allows us to communicate with people everywhere without interrupting them, allowing them to deal with it when they have time.
That is unfortunately not how it works in practice.
I am addicted to checking and answering email. It interrupts my day and takes me on all kinds of tangents away from my most important tasks. And when I look, the day is over and I did not achieve what I set out to do.
Below is a great article by Leo Babauta from his blog Zen Habits on how to deal with email.
Leo is quite radical in his approach, but even if you only implement a part of what he suggests you will benefit.
I hope it helps you to free up more of your time for investing.
Clear out your inbox and be happy.
In a sentence: Don’t reply or even read most of your emails.
Your inbox can be cleared in minutes with that method.
Here’s how I suggest you do it:
- Select all junk mail, newsletters, routine notifications, auto-replies, joke emails, chain mail, ads, anything else not super important. Delete em.
- Select about half (or more) of the other emails that you know are not important, just from the subject line. Archive em.
- Quickly read through the rest, archiving almost every one of them. Select a few to reply to or act on (5 at the most). Those will be your most important.
- Reply to them in three sentences or less, act on them immediately, or put them on your calendar to do later.
Following this method, you can process your inbox in less than 5 minutes if you’re quick (use keyboard shortcuts).
But … what about all those emails I need to reply to? President Obama gets thousands of letters a day, and only reads 10 of them. This method forces you to simplify, to focus on what’s really and truly important.
Then, when you’ve saved all that time you might normally spend on email, go and Do Something Amazing. Oh, and only do this once or twice a day at most — the rest of the day, stay out of email.
Try it for a day or two. Tell me if the world falls apart. I bet it won’t. If it does, I’ll buy you a beer. If it doesn’t, you owe me one.
This is about something a bit deeper: our need to reply and act on every single request that comes in, rather than to take control of our work days and do what we know is important.
You don’t need to respond to every email, act on every request, or even read everything that comes your way. You can choose the essential ones, and then get to work on what really matters.
And if you tell others that you’re doing this, that you’re not going to reply to every email, they’ll eventually stop expecting you to reply.
Note: I realize this method won’t work for everyone … but I did say this would be a simple method.
You can use it to get even simpler than the steps I listed above — just choose 1-5 emails to respond to/act on, and archive all the rest.
About Zen Habits
Leo Babauta is the creator and writer of the Zen Habits blog which is about finding simplicity in the daily chaos of our lives. It’s about clearing the clutter so we can focus on what’s important, create something amazing, find happiness.
Leo is the author of a new best-selling book, The Power of Less: The Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Essential, in Business and in Life.
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An often overlooked, but very helpful feature of most email systems is the ability to establish rules, called filters if you use Gmail.
The rule or filter function allows you to set up criteria and have emails sorted as they arrive, before you have even seen them
I have found that rules are ideal for joke and “please send this on” emails you receive friends or relatives where do not have the heart to ask them to stop.
These types of emails disappear in a folder, gets marked as read and I can look at them if and when I have time.
I can, of course, also just delete them without looking.
This means that I don’t find these mails in my inbox and, as they are already marked as read, in a separate folder I do not even know that they are there.
This feature can be found as follows in the main email programs:
Go to the Tools menu, click Message Rules, and select Mail from the sub menu.
On the Tools menu, click Rules and Alerts. Click New Rule.
Go to Tools, and click “Message Filters”. The “Message Filters” window will pop up. Click New, and the Filter Rules dialogue will open.
I hope you manage to save a few minutes of your precious time.