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How to Stop Procrastinating Your Inbox

You open it, you read it, you don’t action it until next week.

With few employees and never enough hours in the day–it’s imperative that your team knows how to defend against the big green monster, especially in remote arrangements. The best place to start is right under your nose; your inbox. As emails trickle (or pour) in throughout the day, it can be a struggle to manage. Here are three ways to stop procrastinating your inbox:

  1. Action Emails Right Away

You acknowledge that you’ve received an electric bill, but set it on the dining room table to deal with it later. The energy you spend on “remembering” to pay the bill, should be spent on more important matters. The less mental energy you spend on the small stuff leaves more room for the big stuff. Pay the electric bill when you receive it.

The same concept applies to your inbox. You might receive over 20 emails every morning and immediately scan for the “important ones” but you’ll still need to reply to the other 15 people who’ve reached out. Long-term, you save more time actioning your entire inbox than cherry picking the most time-sensitive emails.

2. Check Your Email in Increments

As you write a sales pitch for an upcoming meeting, your attention breaks when you hear the ‘ding’ of an email landing in your inbox. You click your email tab, read the message, then switch back to the sales pitch–realizing your train of thought is completely lost.

Most people check their email several times a day. This is time that could be spent knocking out your wildly long to-do list. Let’s say you check your email every half hour for eight minutes. In a 9 to 5 window you’re looking at 128 minutes of time consumed on email, per day. However, if you limit checking your inbox to only twice a day, for 30 minutes at a time, you would save a total of 68 minutes per day. Ahh, the possibilities!

3. Set Reminders

After scheduling a meeting with an important client, you agree to confirm the appointment the day before. You’ll ‘star’ the conversation to remind yourself to follow up–until of course the message is buried 300 emails deep.

The fix? Convert your important emails into tasks.Set reminders for yourself to follow up on important messages that may not need to be actioned now. This is a great way to build strong client relationships and allow you to spend vital mental energy elsewhere.

It’s been accepted across the board that entrepreneurs don’t have the time to create structure. However, structure can create time–if you have the right tools. Undock allows you to see the big picture by aligning your calls, emails, tasks, meetings and more into one space. Here’s how Undock can help you manage your inbox more efficiently:

  • Action each new message by previewing them one by one, rather than all at once. The interface provides a little extra self-discipline: Respond now, respond later or don’t respond. Each action empties your inbox.
  • Convert an email conversation to a task or event in your calendar with one click. While you’re at it, jot down a quick voice note. Context is key to the development of long lasting relationships.
  • Undock from your inbox to better focus on your work. You won’t receive emails, texts or calls during your busy time blocks (unless it’s an emergency). We’ve all wished we could ‘turn off’ email at one point or another. Now you can.

I vividly recall a 5th grade assembly on the topic of procrastination. The speaker echoed the phrase “do the worst, first” and I remember the message resonating with me. Humans begin procrastinating at a young age with rudimentary tasks such as cleaning or doing homework. The ramifications of our procrastination only increase as we grow older–when time becomes more valuable. Don’t let inbox procrastination get the best of you. Take the trash out, too.

Were these tips helpful? Let me know in the comments!

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