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Learn to never handle a paper or email twice

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We all do it… to our own detriment.  So, let’s make a pact that we will try, if not succeed, to handle our incoming messages more efficiently.

Personal time management helps immensely to make a better manager of you and me.  All of us have time management tips and tricks to help us get through the day.  I have a mantra I try to live by, and it has helped me more than you know over the years.  “Never handle a paper or email twice” may be extended to include reading and acting upon other forms of messages, and any written distraction.

Fight your human nature…

It is human nature to filter through the stack or inbox, looking for the important items. And that certainly has defensible merits.  But to find what is important, we usually must at least scan a document or email, engaged for no less than a short moment and perhaps for the full reading of the document before moving on to look for important issues to resolve.

… by not doing the common things.

But there is good research to back up the statement that returning to a reading from a distraction causes the reader to lose up to 20% of his or her time in getting back to speed in mentally processing the document and its issues.

My “never twice” rule

[Email readers, continue here…]  By trying my best to adhere to the “never twice” rule, I quickly delete most copy-all emails not addressed to me, and all junk, but handle each personally addressed email as it opens in the reading pane.  The exception is an email with an attachment that appears long and involved, such as an executive summary of a business plan.  Those get shuffled into a separate inbox for later review, without exception.

Speed with efficiency?

Using this policy, I get through my several hundred non-spam emails each day faster than I used to, and with more focus upon those with response required than if reading and returning to the issue later, especially if not in the same sitting.  Of course, exempt emails from your superior and those legitimately marked as urgent, both of which should be either directed to a special handling inbox or immediately culled out from the rest.

Wouldn’t you like to regain some percentage of your time with little or no effort?  Try this one.

  • Clarence Treat

    All good advice. I have learned some of your time saving techniques over the years. Though I have never had to process hundreds of emails, I have more important things I want to do than read unsolicited emails. Thanks for the confirmation of what I have concluded. Clarence

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