The TV show, Hoarders, profiles people who suffer from massive clutter issues. You see it consume their lives. As viewers it’s easy to shake your head at these individuals, while perhaps realizing that you have some hoarding tendencies of your own.
For many, ground zero of this problem is the work email inbox. Inside you’ll find hundreds or even thousands of messages. Some may date back to your first day on the job.
What’s wrong with having your own communication archive? Just because something is online, doesn’t mean it can’t be messy. And when something is messy, you often waste a lot of time trying to find things.
Let’s Clear the Path of a problem that can take up a lot of your time, lead to embarrassing situations when you can’t find things, and probably continues to get worse.
Pick & Stick to a System: Productivity experts have a lot of strategies to control your inbox. They range from immediately sorting messages, only looking at them once, or thinning your inbox at the same time, every day.
These are good suggestions but they only work if you stick to them. Think of it like a diet. A lot of people start them but few follow though. It takes 30 days to form a new habit so will you make a commitment to a strategy for at least that amount of time?
Talk More, Email Less: As I mentioned in an article, email is often the source of a lot of communication problems. These invariably end up wasting time and money.
Here’s another incentive to talk more and email less: Does your email persona really represent you at your best? It probably comes across as somewhat bland. Does that make you seem like a memorable employee, who’s a go-getter, and on the fast track to a promotion. Or do you seem like everyone else who only communicates through a keyboard?
The Simple Solution: You have a choice in your actions. If I hate to clean but want a tidy home, then I can can pay someone to clean it. If I don’t want to do that, then I need to spend some time with a vacuum on a regular basis.
Choosing to do nothing, isn’t a solution. It’s an endorsement of the status quo. This simple secret applies to email as well as other challenges in and out of the workplace.