Email. It’s a blessing and a curse.

What can be a valuable and effective communication tool so often turns into a major roadblock to focus and productivity.

I frequently sit down in the office with the very best intentions only to spend half my day going back and forth on email instead of focusing on that one very important, high priority task.

5pm rolls around and while I’ve actioned plenty of non-urgent items as they’ve hit my inbox, my high priority task is largely neglected.

Good one Maddy. A for effort, but D for result.

In a bid to ease my inbox addiction, I conducted a one-week experiment to reclaim my ability to focus. Spoiler alert, I did reclaim that focus. Double spoiler alert, now you can too.

Email batching. It’s an email management technique that sees you attend to email at regular intervals throughout the day, rather than constantly engaging with your inbox every few minutes.

By email batching for a week I found that I was a) more focused on completing important tasks, and b) completed those tasks in a shorter time frame.

Kicked off by productivity master Tim Ferris back in 2007, the aim of email batching isn’t to dedicate less time to email. But rather it aims to better harness our ability to focus by dedicating specific time to email, and specific time to other work items.

In essence, by focusing on one thing at a time, you avoid multi-tasking and reclaim the “wasted” time spent switching between your original task and your inbox.

And this technique is backed by science too. A well respected study by the University of California, Irvine found workers take about 24 minutes to properly re-engage in a task after attending to their email.

So what does email batching look like?

  1. Engage with email during two or three dedicated slots each day – schedule these slots into your calendar during times most suited to email (a lot of people schedule their final slot during the last half hour of their day to make sure they know what needs to be actioned the following morning)
  2. Turn off your email notifications to avoid constant distraction throughout the day – better yet, why not just quit your email application until you’re ready to actually use it? It may feel foreign but it stops the temptation to check for new emails
  3. Deal with new emails as quickly as possible – forget saving it for later, delete or archive emails on the spot if you no longer need them, and action anything immediately if it can be done in five minutes or less. For emails requiring longer task time, schedule the task into your calendar as soon you read about it to avoid forgetting about the task later on

These three steps should have you well on your way to finding better focus at work. If you’re like me, there may be periods where email batching isn’t appropriate, and that’s perfectly ok too. If I’m expecting a lot of media enquiries on a certain day or we’re in crisis mode, I’ll keep a better eye on the progress of my inbox. But on a regular day, there’s a lot to be gained by devoting real, uninterrupted time to your most important tasks at hand.

One more handy hint before I dash off. Check out unroll.me for a free service that allows you to unsubscribe from numerous subscription emails at once and de-clutter that ever-growing inbox. But remember, use the service wisely, a.k.a not on my newsletter 😉

Until next time,

Madeleine xo

Reposted from Instagram @phoebesoup

Reposted from Instagram @phoebesoup

Reposted from Instagram @phoebesoup