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3 Email Tips from a Productivity Expert

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Recently, Duncan Gilman, Dean of Students for Splash Media U, interviewed our very own Robby Slaughter in regards to his newest book in his Efficient Professional series. Today we highlight their conversation and provide our readers with a few of Slaughter’s biggest tips.

For most of us, the question (or nagging complaint, depending on how you view it) on managing email is clear: how can we get our inbox under control and keep it that way? It’s a difficult question because, as so many of us view it, the messaging technology has overwhelmed and overloaded us to maximum capacity. We’ve heard from many people who would actually prefer to delete an email account and start fresh rather than manage a current one with 3000+ emails. Suffice it to say, raising the white flag to our inbox and succumbing to its powerful lure has trapped many of us into endless emailing.

And that is where Robby Slaughter’s latest book comes in. In early December, The Battle for Your Email Inbox hit the shelves! Its content, email management, has been a hot topic for people across the nation as email has become an integral part of our daily lives. For Slaughter and all of us here at AccelaWork, this fact is important because the more email dominates our world, the bigger impact it has on our productivity both in and out of the office.

Book Launch Photo

© Chris Whonsetler

Below is a recap of Gilman’s conversation with Slaughter. To read the interview in full, be sure and visit the post on the Splash Media U blog.

GILMAN: It’s easy to become distracted by checking email throughout the day. Obviously I want to stay in the loop on current projects, but is there a best time of day to check email that will make me more productive the rest of the day?

SLAUGHTER: The best time to check email is never, or at least, not right now … Instead, you should make an effort to process email by reserving time to do so on your calendar. I recommend one or two processing windows a day. When you do this, you’ll be responding to email in a less timely fashion, which actually helps you to receive less email. That’s because others will learn if they need you right away, they have to pick up the phone or find you in person.

GILMAN: Do you have any tips for staying in touch while away from work without letting it get out of control? Any advice for mobile email use?

SLAUGHTER: … communicate with your team and change the expectation that you are available when you are not at work. Just as we would consider it rude to interrupt a meeting, a private conversation, or someone who is asleep, you and your office should define reasonable timeframes that you can be away from email.

It’s best to avoid using mobile email at all unless you plan to do so. If you know you’re going to be waiting for a plane, stuck in a line at a government office, or in your doctor’s waiting room, expect to use that time to process email with your phone.

GILMAN: I like your idea of keeping email for coordinating, while reserving more personal interactions for phone calls and face-to-face interactions. Can you offer an example of each and how we can use email to possibly even increase the social side?

SLAUGHTER: A good rule of thumb is that if the information could be misinterpreted—not just mistaken—you don’t want to use email. After all, we communicate through gestures, body language, facial expression, tone of voice, and through the rapid exchange of clarifying questions. None of these are available when you’re typing at someone else.

These tips above only scratch the surface when it comes to Slaughter’s advice on email management. If you find his thoughts helpful, we guarantee you’ll benefit from these books he’s written!

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Ashley Lee

Ashley Lee

Ashley has been working with the AccelaWork team since 2008. She is a communications expert with a background in corporate work, and a graduate of the University of Dayton with a degree in Public Relations. She lives in the greater Indianapolis area with her husband and four children. Ashley enjoys jewelry, fashion, and coffee.
Ashley Lee

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