So… you’ve arrived at the office and your inbox is full… the question is – how do you go about handling those e-mails (or handling the incoming phone calls, employees’ requests, customers’ complaints or anything else for that matter)? THIS is the subject of today’s 2nd tip.
But, before we continue, you’ve heard the word “power”, or becoming more “powerful”, thrown around in these tips. It’s important you understand this concept. Let’s stop and define it:
Power equals energy divided by time, or P (power) = E (energy) / T (time).
Simply put, what does this mean? Your power level gets determined by how much energy you have to put into getting something done and then how long that took you. Therefore, you have two options:
1. Increasing your energy levels (a subject we’ll cover in the future), and;
2. Doing your actions in less time – by becoming efficient of course!
Let’s assume for the moment that your energy is constant. The more time you put on something to get it done, the less powerful you are. A company that takes five years to build a small house is less powerful than a company that takes one year to build the same house. What you must understand is that the only power you can generate comes about with focus and concentration which will bring about less time spent on any given action. One more simple example: Let’s say you wrote a five page document in an hour… if you wrote that same five page document in a half hour, in effect, you’d be creating more time and that would lead to the creation of POWER. Does that make sense?
Well, how is this relevant to e-mails?
When you handle e-mails randomly (picking them based on how easy they are to reply to, etc.), you will inevitably be doing double work. You will spend time on finding the e-mails you “like” and thinking about putting them on the infamous scale between “easy to reply to” and “I don’t even want to think about this thing right now… or for the next three months.” You’ll then come back to some of the e-mails later, maybe repeat this process, and basically you will be allowing “time to come in”, or to be spent unproductively.
We’ve all done it!
Instinctively, we look for the items we think are easiest to deal with and we delay the more “difficult” items. The problem is that those more difficult items become, in our minds, even more difficult to handle every time we look at them!
We are then in a situation where, on one hand, the wasted time is leading to a loss of power through double work, and we have the items that become, in our minds, monsters which we can’t face every time we look at them. This leads one to the feeling where he or she just can’t get up in the morning to go to work, the feeling of being exhausted and one more very important thing – STRESS.
Stress, by the way, is not what people usually think it is… Stress is only the accumulated backlog you have in your life. If you feel stressed or see others stressed, a light should go off in your head – handle the backlog!!!! …and you will no longer be stressed.
All this leads us to the actual rule…
YOU HANDLE ITEMS FROM THE OLDEST TO THE NEWEST!
In other words, you pick the oldest e-mail or task and handle that first and only then go to the next newer item etc. until you come up to the newest item.
Note: this rule has only one exception which we will discuss in the next tip.
Failing to apply this rule is the source of the biggest problem in business – DELAYS!
It is the source of mountains of unhandled work, and in this unhandled work, there actually hides sources of income.
Every time I get a person to handle his unhandled work, we find money in there that should have been collected long ago; we find great ideas and opportunities, we find almost done products and services which can generate income, and so forth… a treasure chest.
The following simple do’s and don’ts will ensure you apply this rule effectively, and other than feeling good and powerful, you will be able to find your treasure chest and allow yourself to make lots of future money. In reality, this rule will rekindle your ability to create a future for you and your company…
- Skim over all your e-mails first reading some randomly, deleting others and then replying to some.
- Handle the e-mails or tasks based on which e-mail or task is the easiest first.
- Set your inbox up to be organized based on the received date (oldest at the top).
- Handle the oldest e-mails or tasks first - whatever it takes.
- Get to zero items in your inbox, apply Tip #1 – YOU TOUCH IT – YOU PLAY IT.
The above do’s require a mental stamina which, like many things in life, needs to be practiced over time until you can do it routinely. Start practicing and doing it today!
The purpose of this tip is:
- To ensure you expand your ability to handle your incoming communication and not get bogged down by the things you choose to not confront.
- To maximize your and your company’s ability to make more money and expand.
Looking forward to seeing you next week with Tip #3 – The Exception!
Your feedback, comments and questions are more than welcome, and feel free to share this with your friends and colleagues!
For more tips and ideas, check out my blog at - http://tips.timemaker.org
Founder – TimeMaker
This tip was brought to you by TimeMaker – the #1 task and project management software in the world – specializing in saving you time and money.