Get More Done. Check E-Mail Twice A Day Or Less.

10 Comments

I’m starting to crack down hardcore on my TIME MANAGEMENT SKILLS. I hate the term “time management” because the thought of having to “manage” anything can in itself be an utter waste of time. However in this case, the fixed cost investment will be well worth it.

The way I figure, since I an 27 years old right now….I have about 25,000 days left to live..give or take a few thousand (yes, I expect to live to at least 100 y/o).

If I can even steal back 1 hour per day through better time management, that is over 1,000 days I will be able to enjoy hiking, swimming, snowboarding, traveling or just having fun relaxing on a beach! That is over THREE YEARS of my life that I could RECLAIM!

This is HUGE. All from just one hour per day.

Also, when I consider, that I can accrue these benefits starting NOW, and enjoy them IMMEDIATELY, in the height of my “prime years”…it makes me even MORE HAPPY!

This week, I implemented one experiment in my quest to reclaim my time and my life. Following advice from Tim and his great book, The 4-Hour Work Week, I have adopted a new e-mail policy. I now check my work e-mail only TWICE PER DAY, at 10am and 4PM. I check personal e-mail at these times, and also at 9PM or so. I attempt to limit my working time with the e-mail to 40 minutes.

This might seem like an excessive use of e-mail to some, but remember that where I work (at Microsoft), e-mail is like heroin. It would not be out of the ordinary for me to spend 5-6 hours per day reading, responding to or reacting to e-mail. For many, the number is higher. Pretty scary.

As per Tim’s recommendation, I also added a polite “Out of Office” message to Outlook. Since Thursday of last week, people sending me email receive a notice that goes something like this:

Greetings, Friends and Esteemed Colleagues,

Due to high workload, I am currently checking and responding to e-mail twice daily, at 10AM and 4PM PST.

If you require urgent response that cannot wait until 10AM or 4PM, please contact me via Office Communicator IM or call at 425-XXX-XXXX (it will route to cell if I am away from my desk). Don’t be shy…just make sure it is urgent and important :) .

Thank you for understanding. This approach helps me accomplish more to serve you better.

Regards,

Ravi

What has the reaction been? No one has really cared! Nobody is ticked off. Nobody has called me insane (though they might be thinking it). This is AWESOME! A couple people have actually pointed out that they respect my new approach.

What has the impact been on my ability to get work done? I can’t tell you how much MORE EFFECTIVE I am. There is scientific evidence showing that distractions not only impact our ability to accomplish work in the short term, but that repeated distractions can impact the ability of our minds to retain focus over time. I’ve really been able to FOCUS BETTER, and more importantly, focus on the work items THAT MATTER.

This approach has also lowered my anxiety levels quite a bit. I consider myself quite a calm person. Definitely more calm than most. However stress does get to me. Particularly, the stress around feeling compelling to react and act on e-mail. When I have a strict rule in place around not checking e-mail outside of certain times…my brain just stops stressing about it!

Outside of work, my rule around personal e-mail has also been great. It’s opened up a lot of mental energy that I’ve been using on different tasks…like reading and cleaning my apartment!

E-mail is just one piece of the puzzle in my quest for EXTREME TIME MANAGEMENT MASTERY! However, in just two days alone, I probably reclaimed 4 hours (at least) of time that would have otherwise gone to reacting-to or waiting-for things in my in-box. That’s half-a-day I’ve reclaimed! Looking forward to getting A LOT MORE DONE next week.

 

10 comments

  1. Fannie says:

    Ravi, glad to know you reduced time checking your email. I have created the autoresponder for my email, too. I check mine once per day. You’re awesome!

  2. ravisraman says:

    ahhh yes….I am NOT referring to an archived Outlook file. I am referring to the time zone! You can tell where my mind was at when I wrote this!

  3. Paul says:

    Your auto-response should read “PDT” (Pacific Daylight Time) rather than “PST” :)

    I like the policy though!

  4. ravisraman says:

    Scott: Yeah, the book is incredible. I also picked up Rolf Potts book “Vagabonding” (which Tim recommends as a must read). It is equally inspiring.

    Charity: heheheh, no worries…I didn’t take it too personally! 😉

    Amanda: I checked out your website….what exactly is simple.ology? Wasn’t clear from the website and I didn’t want to put in all my info to get access before knowing what it is….thanks!

  5. Scott says:

    I recently made the same switch (to a twice-daily check of email), and I agree – it makes an enormous difference. Down from 2-3 hours per day to around 30 minutes.

    That’s a great book, isn’t it.

  6. Charity says:

    CRAP I couldn’t even not check work email when I was on vacation… which by the way is why I missed your phone call last week. Which… is actually kind of pathetic… I made time for work but not friends… while on vacation?? SHOOT this makes me realize that I need to re-check my priorities!!! Anyways… long story short keep updating with your email policy… I’m kind of intrigued to try it myself!

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