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Don’t Let Yourself Be Your E-Mail Inbox’s Bitch!

Your e-mail inbox has to be one of the biggest Time Bandits in your professional practice!  It will take control of your day and cause your productivity to tank. So many attorneys and professionals I know talk about checking their e-mail first thing in the morning. Don’t do it! Once you go to your Inbox, it can be very difficult to get out.

Don’t Check E-Mail Constantly!

You may say to yourself that you will only check for 5 minutes, but you later look up at the clock and see that it’s been 45! Also, if you have alerts set on your computer for when an e-mail comes in, turn them off. Even if you aren’t in your Inbox, you’re working on a client project, that alert comes in, and it’s a distraction. You stop what you’re doing and look at what just came in.

What do I do? I check my e-mail after lunch, and again at the end of the day. That’s it! I let my clients know that that’s how I handle it, so that they know that if they send me a message in the evening, I won’t see it until the following afternoon. I check after lunch to see if there are any urgent matters I need to address. I check at the end of the day to see what I have to do for the following day, which helps me plan it.

Processing E-Mail in Your Inbox

But what do you do when you do go through your Inbox? Basically, you go through everything that has come in since you last checked it and follow the 4 Ds: Do It, Defer It, Delegate It, Dump it.

The first determination is, is it actionable? Do you need to do anything with that document, e-mail, phone message, etc.? If not, then Dump It if you don’t need it. If you need it for future reference, then file it away in a folder for the matter or administrative project it relates to.

If it is actionable, then ask yourself:

    • Can it be done in less than 2 minutes? Then Do It right now
    • If more than 2 minutes, then
      • If you must do it, Defer It to a future time on your calendar
      • If someone else can do it, Delegate It to a staff member

This should not take you too long. In fact, I only block out 30 minutes each time I check, and it seldom takes that long.

Tame the Time Bandits!

You are never going to gain control of your practice, be more effective, and more profitable, if you don’t have dominion over your time. You control it; no one else. Get more information on how to regain control of your time by downloading my free book, The Ulitimate Guide to Taking Back Your Time.

Want great business and professional practice tips in your inbox every week? Then subscribe to my newsletter

How about more personalized assistance? Then click on this link to schedule a call with me. We can discuss your situation and then set up a free one hour coaching call.

Finally, for more comprehensive information on how to transform your solo practice, you can also get a copy of my bookGetting Off the Hamster Wheel.

Related Time Management Resources


Steven J. Richardson

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