Remember the 1980s movie, "Ghostbusters?" The plot involves a trio of ghost exterminators who try to save New York from supernatural doom when a river of slime grows unchecked under the city, threatening to obliterate humanity.
When I boot up my computer in the morning, the first thing I do is check my email. I get invigorated from the thrill of never knowing what awaits me. It might be a potential client's inquiry, it might be a sign-up for my newsletter, or it might even be a new client contract! More likely, though, hiding behind cloaked headers are unwanted solicitations for anything from male sexual enhancement drugs to how to get my Santa letters addressed from the North Pole.
After reviewing 50 or more email headers in my inbox, deleting what I perceive as junk mail, saving my subscription newsletters for future reading, handling requests for information about my career services, and responding to clients who have emailed me overnight, whew! – I feel like I've worked a full day and it’s only 8 AM!
At this point, I’d probably be OK having invested only an hour or so into my email management. However, I stay connected to my email inbox throughout the day. Whenever I receive a new email, I am alerted through my email software program. With my business being Internet-based, I assume clients and prospects expect instant gratification when they contact me; therefore, I want to comply. I guess you could say I consider replying to email with a sense of urgency as one way I provide high-quality customer service.
The constant interruption of email alerts distracts my focus. I'm pulled away from whatever I'm doing to read the latest greeting. It’s difficult to create new client materials, prepare for my speaking engagements, write articles like this one, and more. My only saving grace is that I don’t handle emails while coaching my clients. I’ve been caught off guard on occasion, though, trying to multi-task by reading email when participating in a teleclass. I just can't seem to master the art of reading, listening and responding – all at the same time! (Why do I get a picture here of the three monkeys who see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil?)
Outside the office, my obsession with email continues. I’ve set up my email to route to my cell phone; I can easily access it from my laptop computer via my wireless Internet connection as I watch TV with husband in the evening; I never travel out of town without my laptop for fear I will miss some critical email message. On more than one occasion, my husband has claimed that I am married more to my email than to him! Oh, my!
Now that I've bared my soul, can you help me figure out what to do to control this email monster? Perhaps you have experienced similar feelings about email driving your own work day? What are the challenges you face? What have you done to remedy the situation? Please, tell me your secrets and tips! I need help!
I’d love to hear from you. Then, I will write a follow-up column offering solutions to this dilemma that I’m sure impacts many of us. When you write, please let me know if I may use your name when I quote you in my article. You may contact me at email@example.com.
I did find a good article on email overload, "10 Tips To Take Control Of Your Inbox" – published in the Business Insider. I'll see if any of those tips can help.
Working in a one-person office presents me enough challenges without having "email slime" trying to take over. Let's all become "ghost-busters" and discover better methods for handling our email monsters so we can refocus on what's most important while we work. I'm ready to take back my life!
Wishing you career success in 2012!