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Stop Checking Your Email Twice A Minute

09 September 2010 | By Tim Lederman in Strategic Planning

Most of the people who buy from me on eBay are great customers.  They pay quickly and leave us excellent feedback.  However, when dealing with a worldwide market of cyber-customers , I often run into people who have a different value structure than I do. Whether they are having a bad day or just love to complain, they send me emails that can be quite nasty and accusatory, even when their “problem” is extremely minor and can be quickly remedied.

Checking my business email is rarely a pleasant experience.  Really, it is my least favorite thing to do on my task list, so you would think I’d avoid it.  Yet I check it at LEAST two or three times an hour.  Why?????

Dr. Edward Hallowell has done research on exactly this phenomenon.  I recently found an article he helped author for Men’s Health.  The article has some scary statistics.  The average time it takes an office worker to get back on task after checking email is 15 minutes.  A quarter of the people Hallowell studied took 2 hours to get back on task!  “We found that people, once interrupted, take the opportunity to do other things, like check more e-mail. Or go to news or sports pages.”  Scary note: this study was done in 2006 before Facebook and other social media took over the world.

Any of this sound familiar?? It certainly does to me. I’m not sure why I obsess over checking my business email–that could be the subject of another blog–but I know it gets me riled up and takes me away from other aspects of running my business.

Here are some of the solutions that Dr. Hallowell came up with:

  • If possible, do 60-90 minutes of work before checking email
  • Schedule ONLY 1-2 times daily to read email
  • Answer every email right away
  • Clear out my inbox each day of emails that don’t need to be saved (most services allow you to access deleted emails or you can archive ones you might need again)

I know the two solutions that would most benefit me are scheduling time to check email and answering each one immediately. When I wait to respond to someone’s reasonable concern or request, I often end up with a another, less friendly or downright angry second email!

I’m committing here and now to taking on my email dilemma! I will read and respond immediately to my customers’ emails by noon every work day. Before I quit work in the evening, I will look at my email again and will leave nothing hanging.

Which of these solutions would work best for you??? What are you willing to commit to?

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