Never enough. Always want more. Goes too quickly.
It’s something that everyone wants but no one gets to keep.
I’ve written and ranted about this topic several times over the past few years. And I’ve always found it a rather strange one for me to come back to as the people who really need to listen or read are usually the ones who don’t have the time to do so [ha ha].
In fact, time management was the one topic I gave up on back in the days of marketing my Women Business Forums. I used to run these once every 8 weeks back in 2005 to 2007. They were a lot of fun to do, great for lead generation as well as making a tidy profit.
I had set up a marketing system that I could just run each time a new date was announced and I usually got between 12 and 18 people in the room with each one.
But not on this topic!
My mantra when it comes to live events is never, ever cancel. Even if it just ends up being you, the cat and someone you drag off the street … always show up if you mean to use live events in your marketing strategy. (This obviously works better with virtual ones such as webinars … always nicer to talk to yourself when you can’t see that no one else is in the room LOL).
However, on this occasion I did cancel.
No matter how hard I pushed my marketing, the systems that I had created that worked so beautifully for all other topics such as email newsletters and networking skills, just feel flat on this one.
With 2 days to go and only 3 people booked, I came down with a dreadful chest infection, which I am pretty sure I brought on myself, as I had to cancel.
So why did I decide to sit down and write about this topic of time again? If the people who need to read this aren’t going to, why should I bother?
Well, I hope someone out there gets to pick this article up and take note. Plus I have a fun competition at the end to give away 3 copies of a rather wonderful book I’ve just finished reading.
This book is not your usual time management waffle. I’ve got a few of these books on my bookshelf and yup, I never found the inclination nor the time to read them.
But this one was different.
Even my 11 year old son picked it up and went, “Cool Mum – Ninjas!”
The book is called “How to be a Productivity Ninja” and the author is Graham Allcott.
There is one chapter in there that’s worth its weight in gold; the chapter called Ninja Email.
Seriously, it’s has been the single most effective time management tool I have ever come across. Mainly because it’s doesn’t show you how to manage your time better … but actually shows you how to manage yourself better in the time that you have when dealing with emails.
I’ve often joked that my inbox has gone feral again. I’ve never been as bad as having hundreds or thousands of unread emails. But the problem has always been that I’ve ended up using my inbox as my to-do list.
Arrgggh! And every time I’ve allowed my to-do list inbox to get out of control, it’s had this weird way of making me guilty of all the things I hadn’t done every time I checked my email. Which then just freezes me and gets me confused on what I should be focusing my time on.
In fact, this is one of the core principles that Graham Allcott highlights in this chapter. You must never “check” your emails. When you go in to your emails, you “do” your emails. Checking just means you end up scrolling up and down and never get anything done.
I have followed the email system that Graham has outlined, word for word. And what’s amazing is that even 2 weeks in, the system is still working perfectly and I love it.
My productivity is soaring at the moment and all because of this chapter in this book.
In fact, here’s a picture of my lovely inbox and the 3 magic folders that Graham shows you in his book, in action.
Because I love this so much, I want to send 3 copies of this book to 3 people. I’m not any commission here, nor have any affiliate link. In fact, I will be ordering these books from Amazon and posting them directly to you. I just want to share this cool ninja time trick with you all.
If you would like to win one of these books, simply post a comment below with your reason why you deserve a copy and share your funniest, scariest or most horrific email story.
Its just a bit of fun so please don’t name or shame anyone unnecessarily … unless of course it’s yourself :O)
POST UPDATE: Thank you to everyone who contributed. I have now picked out the 3 most deserving winners to receive a copy of the book and been in touch to ask for your addresses. May your inboxes become places of calming peace LOL
Thanks for reading. And please share this article with your Facebook and Twitter friends … and even your LinkedIn buddies. Let’s all become Email Ninjas!
POST UPDATE: Graham Allcott, the author of this book, has just been in touch with me. Loves the article (phew!) and wanted to tell me to tell you all that they have made the ebook version available to help raise money for READ International, which is pretty cool.
So if you want the ebook version – don’t buy it via Amazon – get it via this link here: http://readinternational.org.uk/buy-a-book-change-a-life/
I was typing an email to my then (incredibly Senior within the company) Industrial Supervisors for my degree as we were planning our next quarterly meeting. They had a building on site affectionately called the White House. Unfortuately, I mis-typed and used an “s” instead of a “w”. Luckily, they saw the funny side of it! Seems really minor now, but at the time I was mortified!
Oh dear, my email inbox is a bit like my loft – lots of things that I hold on to because I don’t really know what else to do with them (in most cases, the correct answer would be delete!). Currently over 5000 emails in my inbox so any help with a system is very much needed.
My inbox is totally not grouped into folders (yes, they are all in one big chunk in my inbox) and it has gotten to the state where another email (even one from my mom) draws a sigh from me. Seems like I need to “ninja” my inbox!
As for horrific email story, how about this: Once upon a time, the firm I was working in has 2 major soft drink rivals as its clients. Guess what happened? An email that was supposed to be sent to one got sent to the other! Lots of finger biting and hair tearing in the ensuing days…
I am a true squirrel! I keep and stash away ridiculous amounts of stuff that “might be useful” some day but rarely is! My email inbox currently has about 28000 messages (groan) I do have folders but don’t always remember to use them! I am on a de-cluttering mission for the rest of my house but have not tackled the ‘electronic cupboard’ yet – the thought of it inspires dread, maybe I need therapy….
Ann, I have to say, I think I would outsource that job!
I have to say, I am one of those people who has 100’s of folders in their Inbox – I get stressed if there are too many messages in my Inbox. In my last job, I used to keep a folder immediately below the inbox called AA which was the to be done stuff, but loving the concept of Action, Read and Waiting!
The horror story is not one of mine, although I was involved. I once had a member of staff send me an email that was allegedly to her boyfriend saying she hated me. She had received a bit of a telling off that day, and was venting her anger. Have to say, she ended up with a bigger telling off, took to her bed for 3 days (we were at sea on a Royal Navy Ship) and hopefully learnt her lesson!
I have three business email accounts and two personal in order to keep the emails and spam automatically filtered. Seems like a practical idea dosnt it? Problem is that as they are all accessed from the same platform (Outlook) over the years I’ve replied to various stuff using the wrong reply address. Result ? All of the email addresses are on all of the databases and I get most emails four times! Still don’t read em! 🙂 HELP!
Oh yessssss. I would benefit from this book because I’m typing this instead of working my way through my new accounts software package in time for a free one-to-one in 1 hour that will resolve any difficulties. Why? because I’ve been mumbling and bumbling through my emails and …..whizzzzz the email monster has eaten 2 hours!
Who ever told me computers would save me time lied! Heeeeelp I need a Savvy Saviour to ride to my rescue.
I received an e-mail from an administrator at our Head Office asking for someone in our region to collate an article about achievements in the region, including photos of everyone. Quite a big job. The e-mail sat in my in-box for a couple of days and no one replied at all. Usually there are a flurry of replies from the group. Didn’t want just to ignore it but didn’t have the time to do this thankless task myself. Soooo .. sent an e-mail round along the lines of “this is a really big job; bit of a pain for HO to ask for it; I can’t do it but is anyone willing to step up?” Pressed “Reply All” and a second later realised it would go to the administrator too. Aaagh! Sent an “oops, very sorry” note to her but she reported me to the MD who went completely ape. Formal written warning time!!
Beware, beware, beware!
E-mails are a blessing and a curse to me – would love to manage them better.
Currently I have 11594 emails in my inbox, and they are all colour coded. OK, many of them have a green tick next to them (which means I’ve done that action), but a lot still have a red flag (signifying I have yet to do something with it). The colour codes say whether they are work, networking, learning, home, etc. These emails go back to February 2010 with a few extra ones before that (but I’ve forgotten why I’ve kept them). In addition to this I have 48 subfolders on the side which also store emails. I think I am in dire need to find out about ninja emails!
Whilst at university I changed my email signature to ‘Mark with no ass’ (on account of being quite slight) as a joke for friends. Completely forgot about it when emailing tutors! Oops…
Great Great article Karen.
I’m still checking my emails and it’s after 2pm! The extend of the problem is so great so I’ve just ordered one to arrive tomorrow, thank you anyway!
Wow! Thanks for everyone’s stories. Love them all 🙂
Keep them coming as the winners of the books won’t be decided until Thursday next week so you will still in with a chance of getting yourself a copy.
And Graham Allcott, the author of this book, has just been in touch with me. Loves the article (phew!) and wanted to tell me to tell you all that they have made the ebook version available to help raise money for READ International, which is pretty cool.
So if you want the ebook version – don’t buy it via Amazon – get it via this link here
I really really need to read this book because I get so many wordy emails and articles that my eyes glaze over and I go blank and then become completely useless. I save a lot for when I am sick in bed but am rarely ill so they mount up.
I have realised that others feel the same and so i try and keep my emails short and to the point. However I really need some email-handling strategies that will make my life easier.
How can I be so organised in everyday life, work and childcare co-ordinated with military precision, but then when it comes to my inbox there’s absolutely no control whatsoever?
My problem is my obsession to register for email newsletters (always seems a good idea until I can’t find the real emails) and then my dreadful habit of checking emails on my phone or ipdad and not actioning them because I’m on the school run or in a supermarket!
Pleeeeasse can I win won of the books as I dearly need an inbox boot camp ;o)
As far as a funny story is concerned, at the start my sister’s career (she is now a well respected PA) she sent an email to the company’s clients inviting them to a Christmas function. Her first mistake was to get the date wrong (Monday 4th, instead of Wednesday). And so the email had to be sent again. Unfortunately for her on both occasions the mail merge didn’t go as planned and so not only did everyone get the email twice, they were all addressed as ‘Dear Kenneth’. We still laugh about that now!
‘win won’?? what a wally, sorry should have said ‘win one’ ;o)
Hah! I don’t need it! I’ve already got 34 folders! There are only 1067 unread emails in my inbox and the oldest only dates back to ….. November 2011! I’m really on top of things. Of course that’s just one of my superbly organised accounts! The other only has 4091 emails in the inbox, and I’ve read at least a quarter of them. Problem with that one is that at least 20% of these have the same subject title. As I write this I realise that in fact I need help….quickly!!
I like the sound of this book, so on the strength of your recommendation I bought the book via read international and donated too.
I don’t need to win a book now but I will share a little email horror story from my days of employment…
In the design studio where I worked we used MS Entourage for our email (the mac version of outlook) with proofs, graphics, images and the like flying back and forth my email inbox would get very full with large attachments. I used to find myself using the inbox as a filing system. But it turns out that Entourage has a capacity limit and one day (without warning) it just crashed and I lost every pretty much every email I had sent or received in 3 years.
Thats one way of purging your inbox…
Ahhhhh yes – this ‘in-box to-do-list’ resonates with me Big Time!
When you asked what the scariest e-mail moment I ever had it all came flooding back – at least the parts I’ve not blocked-out of my sub-conscious! A number of years ago at a previous job I was liaising with my manager and an external client on a project we were working on. E-mails were flying back & fourth and to keep the paper trail, we always had the previous e-mails on the same subject below the most recent e-mail written. Oh yes this was a great idea…. until the supplier scrolled down to the very bottom of a very long ‘paper trail’ and came across a few choice comments (nothing inappropriate mind you – just completely open to an inappropriate interpretation!) between my manager & I regarding the supplier… AARGH! Not good! Needless to say I had to eat a HUGE piece of HUMBLE PIE, come crawling on my knees apologising, and as I recall, there was some sort of response we managed to come up with that was vaguely satisfactory from the clients perspective! I don’t remember having much to do with that client after that – but I did manage to keep my job!
This book must be for me not because I have one stand-out scary / funny / alarming story to tell but because my in-box relationship is ‘the same old story’; that ground-hog day, sigh-inducing sinking feeling that more hours have elapsed as I have wandered up and down my list of messages; aka my to-do list, without seeming to achieved much…
Loved this blog. It made me smile as I am that person with a to do inbox . I also use it as a filing system and get cross when a well meaning ict person tells me it’s full and I need to cull it. I shall read the book for sure.
Thanks Amanda .. it really is a fab book. I still use this @action, @waiting and @read files a year on. Good luck with getting rid of that inbox filing system 🙂