An event horizon is a notional boundary around a black hole beyond which nothing can escape, not even light. The gravitational force is so strong that the escape speed exceeds the speed of light. It’s the infamous point of no return. Once inside the black hole, you will reach something called a singularity, which is the place where all the matter in a black hole gets crushed into.
Email inboxes resemble black holes; usually, when you are replying to your 3rd email, you have crossed the event horizon. The gravitational pull of your inbox is so powerful that you inadvertently isolate yourself from anything else. Once inside, rather than getting crushed into tiny bits of matter, you have basically given sizeable chunks of energy and time to other people’s priorities and agendas.
I’ve always felt that the phrase “urgent email” is an oxymoron – there is not such a thing. If I’m going to be late to collect my son from school, I’m not going to send an email – I’ll call the school. If I lock myself out my car, I don’t send an email to my road assistance company – I’ll call them. So if someone sends me an email and then calls me (or texts me) to let me know that the matter is urgent/important, then I will give the email the desired attention.
I’m not trying by any means to downplay the importance of email. Although I have drastically replaced email with other systems of communication (video-calls, text messaging, content sharing applications, etc.), I still believe that email is a critical communication platform. That being said, we should not let that useful tool deplete our energy and govern our time like it generally does.
Using email wisely can single-handedly increase your productivity levels, safeguard your energy and improve your mood noticeably. You will feel less overwhelmed and more in control, allowing you to focus on your priorities and the things that matter most to you.
Schedule time for email review. Don’t just jump into your inbox every 10 minutes. That is such a productivity killer. Allocate time slots in your diary dedicated to email and stick to the assigned time.
Don’t reply to ALL emails. Some people feel the need to reply to most emails, even when they are put in cc. You don’t have to. I have some coaching clients that get north of 150 emails every day, so it takes them a great deal of mindful thinking as to where they will invest their energy.
Be mindful of email recipients. The best and worse email function is “Reply all”. It is 2019, and I can’t believe how mindless some people are when they click the “reply all” to an email which 99% of the recipients don’t need to receive in the first place. Be mindful as to whom you address your emails to and email karma will be good to you.
Use filters. Nowadays, email clients have gotten really smart. You can filter emails that are sent to you only, forward newsletters directly to a folder without even reaching your inbox, etc. Spend time understanding the mechanics of filters, and you will be amazed at how combinations of filters can help you manage your inbox wisely.