Stop Treating Email Like A Trip To The Dentist


With apologies to my friends in dentistry

"When I open my email I feel like I'm headed to the dentist, and I hate going to the dentist," the person on the other end of the phone kept saying. I was working with a client who was really struggling with their email management. They had let things get out so out of control that they were rarely checking email at work, opting to spend one to two hours in the evening handling their email. And yes, it was putting quite a strain on their relationship with their family and their own personal renewal time.

I think my client was actually quite profound in their words, because I do believe lots of people view email as a necessary evil and something to be done begrudgingly. I won't lie... I sometimes get a small throbbing pain in my head when I see the "receiving...." notification start counting the incoming emails.

If you've been nodding your head in agreement with my client's comment about the dentist, you may be putting up some mental roadblocks to actually improving how you handle your email. Here's why:

You won't explore opportunities to improve.
Except for teeth cleaning, people only visit their dentist when there's a problem Handling your email with this mindset discounts your ability to learn better ways of managing your inbox. Just like flossing your teeth more often, there are all kinds of strategies available to improve email management... you simply have to consistently use them.

You forget the importance of relationship.
Maybe your dentist is on the top of your gift list for the holidays... but I doubt it. We should be more thoughtful toward those who take excellent care of our teeth, but we aren't because we don't see them that often. Email offers the same challenge. Because that person isn't in front of us, we forget that we improve or hinder relationships by the timely manner we respond to emails and provide a coherent and thoughtful response.

You fail to do anything about the pain-until it's REALLY painful.
Unless you have an extremely low tolerance to pain, you keep thinking that discomfort in your tooth will "work itself out." It's only when you bite down differently and a searing pain shoots through your body that you make the choice to get something done. With your email overload, wouldn't it be better to seek opportunities to improve BEFORE you miss a deadline or before you have to declare "email bankruptcy?"


For more related to this topic:
Four Fresh Ways To Conquer Your Email Overload
Inbox Zero And TRAF For Your Email