Slaying the Email Dragon

on January 15, 2010 in Productivity & Organization
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Email is a conquest all freelance writers face. Generally daily. It steals our attention, our time and that means our money. In 2010, make sure that you slay the email dragon, not smolder in its clutches.

Geeky fantasy imagery aside, spending too much time and energy on email is a serious problem for freelance writers. The time spent on email is too much, too frequent and too inefficient for a serious business owner to condone. Personally, I have some harsh rules regarding my email. Rules I didn't think I could follow, but it comes to setting firm rules with clients and vendors.

  1. Only check your email once per 24 hour period. Unless you've got project critical elements being delivered via email, don't touch your email. If you're accessing your inbox for project critical elements, tunnel-vision your way there.
  2. Don't just click what interests you—have a system. Use folders or labels to sort your email messages into actionable contexts (such as Read / Reader for ezines you need to read, social networking site notifications such as a LinkedIn folder for recommendation requests).
  3. Give as much as is due. Don't respond to worthless emails (junk forwards, fired clients not getting the hint, spam) and don't write unnecessarily lengthy responses. As a general rule, write an email subject and stick to it. Use those writing skills!

How to you keep email from sludging your workday? What are the struggles you face?

Thanks for sharing!
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5 Comments

  1. Carson Brackney January 15, 2010 Reply

    Timely post. It’s something that’s been on my mind the last few days. I have a feeling it’s going to be tough for me to break the habit, as I’m a constant email checker and have been for years.

    Most of my clients know that they’ll rarely need to wait for more than an hour to get a response from me, even if it is just an “I got it–Will get back to you in a few days” acknowledgment. So, part of my plan is going to involve letting all of them know that I’m going to 1-2 checks per day, so they know what’s happening.

  2. Jake P January 15, 2010 Reply

    Once a day? Yikes, JM, you are HARD CORE!

    I respect and admire what you’re saying, but personally, I know there’s no way in heck. For me, I’m good with checking it once an hour or so as long as I don’t go down the rabbit hole once I’m there. On #2 and #3, however, I’m with ya.

    To each her/his own!

  3. Jessie Haynes January 19, 2010 Reply

    @Carson,
    Thanks for stopping by. I had an understanding with my clients that I would just about immediately respond to an email. Had. New rules are if you miss this time period your response comes tomorrow / next business day.
    @Jake,
    Thanks! This was Jessie, not Jenn, but she’s got the email monster down herself. 2 and 3 are extremely helpful to slaying the email dragon.

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