Two true stories…
A friend who was a CEO at the time asked me how to help one of his employees who just couldn’t get through his emails. He had 10,000 emails collecting in his inbox! Immobilized by his perfectionism he just did not know how to get traction.
Another friend sheepishly asked how I handle long emails from folks who are asking me for counsel. I asked him what the longest he had waited to respond to someone, and he proceeded to tell me that our conversation marked the ten year anniversary of an email which he still had not addressed! I asked him if he knew whether this person was still alive and I recall him saying he was not sure.
In light of these and lesser challenges with email, I came up with my own system for dealing with the daily deluge of email: RIP.
R is for email you can respond to right away. I use the one minute rule. If I can respond within a minute, I usually do it at once.
I is for incubate. When I receive a large email asking for some kind of action, I respond right away with something like this: “Thanks for your email. Right now, I am not able to address it. Please give me a few weeks and I will circle back to you.” Here is what happens on a fairly regular basis: The person thanks me for responding right away and appreciates that it may take some time. When I finally get back to responding, I many times find out that either my correspondent got his answer elsewhere or that it is no longer of importance to him. It is common for people to write stuff, even long things, only later to realize it is not so pressing after all!
P is for pitch. This is the junk email. Junk email grows so you have to be crystal clear about what really matters to your own calling in life.
So start RIPPING through your email and keep your inbox under control.