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phone%20call.pngTwo weeks after declaring war on email overload, I am happily on my way to making email fun again.
I tried asking nicely. I tried unsubscribing to non-essential email publications. I tried asking people to keep their emails short and only send email when it is important. None of it worked.
So now I have stopped feeling guilty about what other people think if I answer email slowly or not at all. I have accepted the fact that even trying to handle the more than 700 emails I get every day is just not possible, or necessary.
Here are the other steps I’ve taken:
o turned off email notification
o don’t look at email first thing in the morning. I make myself do something else productive before i look at email.
o limit how much time i will spend on email.
o I pick up the phone and call people when I need a response from them
o keep IM open for those people I actually want to talk to
o explain to clients and friends that email is only to be used for matters of importance.
o call people when an email thread has more than 3 messages in it
o ask clients to use descriptive subject lines; to change the subject line if the topic changes; and to be sure to include the message to which we are responding

o ignore messages that are more than a few lines long. there simply is no reason to send me a 500 or 1000-word email. I am not going to read it.
o worry much less about the whole issue
I highly recommend using an autoresponder. It has generated nothing but empathy and change. Sing halelulah! Here’s my current autoresponder.

Dear colleagues & friends: I am checking email only a couple of times a day because I am overwhelmed by the more than 700 emails I have been getting daily for the last several months. I simply cannot believe they are all necessary.
So, if something is pressing, please call me, or IM me.
If you send email, please understand that I may be back to you in hours rather than minutes.
Thank you!

I love this autoresponder I got from a client tonight:

“This is an automatic response to let you know that e-mails are beginning to take a toll on my health and on my private life. I will only be reading select e-mails each day based upon a random lottery system developed by my computer nerd friend, Oscar.
If you are one of the lucky ones you will here back from me sometime or another. Ifyou don’t hear back from me in 3 or 4 days, just try again…..the odds are better each time you try.

Posted by B.L. Ochman, all rights reserved