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What's Not Working: Email

Most people think of a nutritious diet and exercise when they think of health, but managing stress is actually one of the most important steps we can take to live a healthy life. And sometimes, too much information swirling around in our head feels stressful. Periodically I like to pause and ask myself two questions in an effort to reduce overall stress: "What's working in my life right now and what's not working in my life right now?" After doing that recently I realized my system (or lack thereof) for handling emails is not working. My inbox is overflowing. I am forgetting to respond to people on time. I am having trouble finding emails that I saved specifically for the information they contained. So, I am experimenting with a new process for the next month or so to see if I can come up with one that works better.

I get a lot of different types of email. I still get a number of emails from my days as an investment manager and I want to keep reading those - they help me keep up with what is happening in the economy as well as my own investments. I now get a number of emails regarding health and health coaching. These help educate me so I can be the best health coach possible and are part of running my business. I also get emails from people/companies I follow related to a few of my hobbies. And, I get the usual emails from friends and family.

Here are the steps I am taking during this experiment:

  1. Use two dedicated time blocks a day when I am sitting at my desk to read AND PROCESS my emails. This means either acting on the email at that moment or moving it to the appropriate folder to act on in the future. Try to close email the rest of the time I am working at my desk. The idea is to get my inbox to zero after each review.

  2. Reorganize and expand my folders and subfolders so I can find saved emails more easily. As I process my emails if I don't have time to read through something that is of interest it will then be saved in a place where I can access it more quickly in the future.

  3. Create a "Handle Soon" folder so that things I need to take care of aren't just sitting in my inbox where I might miss them.

  4. Determine if any of the newsletters I subscribe to are simply blog postings and if so, unsubscribe.

  5. Over time, go through all the old, archived email folders and subfolders. Decide on a better way to save educational emails for future reference.

I am hoping these steps will help, but I am also going to remain flexible to change things that aren't working. My two main concerns are how the system will work when I am traveling and if I will miss anything pressing by limiting myself to just two review blocks each day.

I encourage you to ask yourself what IS and what IS NOT working in your life right now and take action - even if it's not the final solution.

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