I rely on email to support my work, connect with people, and even to deliver this very blog article. That said, when we prioritize email, we make sacrifices. We compromise …
If you are like me, you appreciate the power of email, but clearly see how distracting and even destructive it can be. Can you remember being in the middle of a conversation with someone when they were distracted by an email popping up on their phone? Have you ever had plans to start on a new project, but a quick email check completely derailed your intentions, because the 5 minute check turned into a 2 hour session?
It’s time to take the power back.
This week, my mornings started with the views shown above from either early morning hikes, or journaling and meditating on our roof. Even though I knew there was email waiting, and was even a little curious about what might be in there, I didn’t want to give it the power to steal my attention.
I knew if I fueled my body, brain, heart and soul first before jumping into my inbox, I could respond to email more thoughtfully and plan my day around what mattered most to me.
If you use email on a daily basis and want to take back the power of prioritizing your day, use these following tips to deprioritize your email. They will show you how to get out of your inbox and into your life.
1. Set Limits and expectations.
The limits are for you. Create limits that protect mornings, evenings, or other times of day when you are most creative, or during the times you connect with your family. For instance, impose limits like:
- no email before 10am, or after 7pm.
- only check email 2X a day
- Yesterbox or another structured system
- no email from your phone
Experiment and be flexible until you find something that works for you.
The expectations are for everyone else. Let co-workers, clients, and even family know what your limits are and the best way to reach you if they need an immediate response.
2. Turn off notifications.
If you get a notification every time you get an email, you are setting yourself up for a day of complete distraction and overwhelm. You don’t need to know the moment a new email arrives. You run your email, or it will run you.
3. Try a weekend autoresponder.
I’ve never been a fan of autoresponders, but as a solopreneur, I can see the value and may be experimenting with them moving forward. My friend Sarah shares great examples of creative autoresponders and makes recommendations about what to include in this article: How to Ignore Emails without Alienating Everyone.
I’d really like to disconnect from email on weekends, but because the internet is open 24/7, I want to be available if you have trouble with a new course, or something else on the site. I think a thoughtful, informative autoresponder might be the answer.
4. Be brief and kind when you respond.
Most emails can be answered with only a few sentences and brevity/getting right to the point demonstrates that you want to serve while valuing everyone’s time, including your own.
A handful of email requires a longer response. Those are typically the email messages that fall into the “respond later” pile. My friend Jess gave me a brilliant solution and suggested I respond via unedited audio messages. Brilliant! It’s personal, saves time, and let’s me get to the heart of the matter without worrying if I put the comma in the right place. It also eliminates the concern of “are they going to take this the right way?”
5. Get sacred with your space.
While you can’t prevent 100% of the nonsense that arrives in your inbox, take responsibility for what you let in there. If you subscribed to a list or website that bombards you with sales offers or deals all day long, remember that you gave them permission (and you can take it back).
Instead of complaining about how annoying the offending company is, unsubscribe or filter out as much junk as you can to protect your inbox. If you make it a sacred space, you’ll think twice about signing up for something you aren’t really interested in. Make room for the good stuff by saying no to what doesn’t serve you or your work.
Take back your power to pay attention to what matters to you first thing in the morning. Take back your clarity of knowing what does matter to you. Take back ease and joy too.
If you want to connect, create, and thrive, get out of your inbox and into your life.