As a small business owner, few things are more important than good productivity and effective time management. Unfortunately, these aren’t always easy to achieve; especially when there’s Facebook to check, blogs to read, and a steady stream of emails to reply to.
Unlike Facebook and blogs though, email is something that no small business owner can or should avoid in the working day. The problems come when too much time is spent reading and rereading them while taking no action.
As we use MailChimp for our email marketing campaigns, we’re able to monitor our subscribers’ email habits. A few of the trends we’ve noticed from looking at this information is rather shocking; some people are actually opening our emails on up to 21 separate occasions.
Clearly this is a huge waste of time, and has prompted us to share a few tips on how to control your email habits before they control you.
Self-control with a self-timer
Assigning yourself a set amount of time for each task every day is a great way to ensure you don’t spend too long on just one and neglect the others. You can even set aside times for getting your fix of the non-work websites that are usually a constant temptation and distraction.
One of the most popular time management systems is the Pomodoro Technique, a method of assigning yourself medium length blocks of dedicated work time, usually around twenty five minutes long, interspersed with short breaks of five or ten minutes.
Giving yourself twenty five minutes of concentrated email time, perhaps two or three times a day if need be, will help to focus your mind on the task at hand, while giving yourself a guilt-free five or ten minute window to check Facebook or browse some blogs to refresh your mind in between.
Accountability looks good on paper
If you find yourself quickly checking your email and taking no action constantly throughout the day, it might shock you to learn just how many times you do this, even if the accumulative time spent doing so isn’t that much.
Every time you turn your mind to your email, no matter how briefly, you’re taking it away from all the other important tasks that need your attention too.
It’s natural to tell yourself you don’t do this too often while underestimating the real figure, but having a pen and paper with you and keeping a record of how many times you idly check your email throughout the day will help you see just how often you do so, which will in turn give you the visual evidence you might need to control this habit.
This technique isn’t restricted to just your email habits, either. Keeping track of how many times you unconsciously open a social media page or look at blogs you don’t actually read can help you cut down on that habit too.
Another type of game theory
One irrefutable fact of life is that people are more likely to work on tasks if they enjoy them. Another fact of life is that nobody enjoys wading through a backlog of emails. The obvious solution here then is to somehow make email a fun endeavor, and eliminate the boredom that constantly drives people back to browsing social media and non-work related blogs. If only there were a way.
Welcome to the Email Game.
Easily found on Google, the Email Game is a web application that turns the task of clearing your inbox into something enjoyable, which of course helps motivate you to get through them quickly, eliminating the bottleneck that is your inbox and freeing you up to get on with the next thing on your to-do list.
Take control of your email habits today
Spending time on email every day is unavoidable for small business owners, but nurturing good habits can ensure that time is spent well rather than wasted. Every minute saved on not idly checking your inbox can be spent on something more productive.
It can even be reassigned and become time reserved for browsing social media, reading blogs, or any other leisure activity that can help relax your mind and maintain your concentration on the important tasks of the day.