Defeat Email Overload

Power Productivity Video Series: Video 3 – Defeat Email Overload


If you don’t hate email, you should.  It is killing your productivity.

This video provides you with one solution to your email overload.  You don’t have to implement all of it and you don’t have to agree with all of it.

But I can guarantee it is better than what you are doing now.

Watch this video and give it a try.

Below are the links to the other videos in the Power Productivity Video Series:

Video 1: Tame the Ringing Telephone

Video 2: Better Scheduling Means Better Work

Video 4: Kill Off Drop-By Meetings

Video 5: The Secret of the Action Log


I’m Dave Lorenzo with Valtimax Consulting and this is the third video in our Productivity Series and I’m going to talk today about the overall email overload that all of us experience. It’s almost impossible to keep up with the email that we get each and every single day.

Even those of us who are fastidious about going through our inbox and deleting items, we can still go to a meeting or spend a half day at a seminar or spend all day with clients or with patients and we come back and we find that our inbox is inundated with dozens, if not hundreds of emails.

So how do you deal with them all? Well, here’s my method for going through email. The first thing you do when you sit down at your email inbox is you scan your email for any emails that have urgent client needs or urgent patient needs. So if you’re a lawyer and you’re working on matters currently for three different clients who are in your email inbox, those are the first emails that you will look at and respond to.

If you’re a doctor and you’re waiting for test results, you go through your email inbox and you look for the test results related to those specific patients. If you’re a business executive and you’re waiting for an answer on a project or on a contract that you’re negotiating, you go through the inbox and you look for those emails first.

Other than that, take the emails one at a time as they come. Open them. Read them and if you can, respond to them immediately and then delete them or file them and move on.

Now, if the response is going to take a longer period of time or it needs some sort of research, you should flag that email and come back to it at a later date. I know this flies in the face of a lot of productivity gurus who will tell you only touch something once but you can get bogged down in answering just one or two emails and not get through the rest of your inbox.

Our goal in this email section is just to get through the inbox and get rid of all the junk and the crap that we don’t need. As you go through your emails, if there are things you believe that are important but not urgent, flag those. If there are things that are neither important nor urgent, delete those. If there are things in your email inbox that are urgent but not important, you should delegate those. Forward those on to someone else in your company, in your firm, who can handle them.

Again, they’re urgent but they’re not important to you, forward those on to somebody who can handle them immediately. If you don’t have anyone else in your firm or in your company or in your medical practice who can handle those urgent but not important emails, then deal with them in the moment. Hopefully you can bang them out quickly.

Finally, there are emails that are in there that you think to yourself, “Hmm, it would be nice to respond to this someday,” or “It would be nice to come back to this,” or this person may or may not want a response or they’ve just copied you on something as a “FYI”. Those are the emails that you put in a special folder marked “clean out”. You put them in a folder marked “clean out” with the month and the date and you will leave them there and if nobody calls you about that email item, you don’t have to ever worry about responding to it. You’re basically giving yourself permission to ignore that email. Believe me when I tell you that if someone sends you an email and it goes for three days without anyone calling you to ask for a response, that email was unimportant and it can just be discarded.

So, recapping the email strategy. Go through all your emails, skimming them, looking for urgent and important issues. Address them immediately. Then next go through your batch of emails looking for important issues that are not urgent. Flag those. Come back to them later when you schedule an email session to actually answer those emails.

Then the emails that are not important and not urgent, move them to your clean out folder and eventually delete them and then emails that are urgent but not overwhelmingly important to you, forward them to somebody else. Delegate them so they can be done by someone else in the future.

My name is Dave Lorenzo. The name of our company is Valtimax Consulting and we help you make a great living and live a great life®. Until next time, bye-bye.