Email Survival Skills: Survival Tips Compatible with Microsoft Outlook 2010 & 2013 (2015)
Scan Your Inbox: Binoculars
Binoculars help you see what is on the next hill or down in the valley, or how close that big brown bear is to you. They scan the horizon for potential dangers and help you choose a safer trail.
When it comes to email, binoculars stand for scanning the inbox for the easy stuff to complete or ignore, like the pleasant good news emails and the potential time bombs that are about to go off.
Scanning your inbox is the first thing you should do before you start processing emails because you could spend two hours handling the most recent emails that have entered your inbox and then shut your computer down before discovering an urgent email from your manager that was the first in your Inbox at 7:00 A.M., which reads, “Need reply by 8:30 A.M.” Oops…
Emails that catch our attention and we open first often have nothing to do with the work we need to complete for the day. For instance, you had a health checkup with your doctor and you see an email from her nurse with the subject line “Blood Work.” How far would this email throw your day off?
We just received the results on your blood work from your appointment yesterday afternoon and everything seems to check out as normal. However, instead of giving you your routine tetanus shot, we injected you with radioactive spider blood.
Now, you should be just fine. This is a pretty common mistake amongst hospitals. However, just to be on the safe side, if you notice any new abilities (being able to climb walls, being able to shoot spider webs, having a new spidey sense) then go ahead and give us a call back so we can set up an appointment for you.
Daisy Richardson, Chief Executive Nurse
This nonsense email makes the point that you open messages that raise emotions and throw your focus off in many ways. If this were a legitimate email about your blood work, you would naturally be distracted for good reason. However, we spend time in a myriad of emails that have little to do with our prioritized task list. Emails from friends – especially if they contain office gossip – are prime culprits of lost productivity.
To keep productivity high, scan through your emails as if you are looking at them with binoculars. Evaluate their importance. Sort them by sender or by subject line. Have the reading pane open so you get a sense of what is needed. If the email is of high importance, mark it as unread or flag it for quick reference. Once you are finished scanning your new emails, you can begin processing.