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Handling email overload

Posted by Michael Bloch in online world (Sunday October 14, 2007 )

Email overload getting you down? Finding you’re stopping 10, 20 times a day to answer email and it’s interrupting your work flow?

Here’s a simple idea I noticed from an autoresponse message from a TTB newsletter subscriber. Maybe it will help you too.

The autoresponse read:

“Due to high workload and pending deadlines, I’m currently checking and responding to email twice daily at (X time) and (Y time).

If you require urgent assistance, please contact me directly via phone at XXXXXXXXX.

Thank you for understanding this move toward more efficiency and effectiveness. It helps me accomplish more to serve you better.”

I’ve seen this sort of thing a few times now and it’s certainly an interesting idea; especially in an “I want it now!” world. It won’t work in all situations, and perhaps telling people when you do read and respond to email isn’t necessary – just work your own schedule.

I’m not in a position to only answer email at a specific time of the day; but I was just curious if anyone else has tried working this way and how you’ve found the experience.

Some large organizations are taking the email overload situation even more seriously and attempting to make one day each week a “no email day“, where *no* non-critical email is allowed to be sent.

This strategy is not only to hopefully foster increased productivity, but to get employees more involved with face-to-face or voice-to-voice dealings with other workers and customers. The article details some rather interesting reactions from employees of companies who have attempted to implement these email-free days :).


6 comments for Handling email overload
  1. I believe that auto-response was taken from Tim Ferriss’ book 4-Hour Workweek.

    Comment by Louis — October 14, 2007 @ 4:51 pm

  2. Thanks for that Louis, I’ve read a few interviews with Tim; interesting guy!

    Comment by Michael Bloch — October 15, 2007 @ 6:11 am

  3. I find that when I am bound to the office, my email client is generally open and I check it too often. It is a bit disruptive, but, I feel compelled to respond when I receive an email.

    When I am out of the office I tend to check emails just twice a day.

    Comment by Lance — October 21, 2007 @ 9:04 pm

  4. I altered my Outlook setting so it starts up in the “Tasks” list not “Inbox”. The idea was for me to prioritize important matters over the merely urgent ones. Unfortunately I habitually go straight from Tasks to Inbox each morning :-(

    Comment by Dave — November 6, 2007 @ 5:41 am

  5. Thanks for your comments Dave and Lance – Dave: yep; been there, done that ;)

    Comment by Michael Bloch — November 7, 2007 @ 2:56 am

  6. […] email…do I even need to go down that road? I hadn’t checked my email at all in three weeks, […]

    Pingback by Feed Reader Overload: Mark All As Read - Dawud Miracle @ - — December 4, 2007 @ 4:04 pm

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