5 Email Habits Your Doctor Will Thank You For

May 8, 2012 at 8:00 pm

Email: How to Tame the Untamed Beast

It’s your everyday morning: you wake up with the perfect plan for the perfect day, everything laid-out and ready to go. You think to yourself This is the day I’m going to catch-up and relieve myself of all the stress. So you hit off, eat your breakfast, and drive to your typical 9-to-5 office.
Try to convince your boss
that this will increase productivity.
Fast-forward to the end of the day: you just left another heavy project and you’re exhausted. You managed to get a good lead on your load, yet there’s still a long ways to go. But for now, you’re just on your way home, looking forward to that well planned R&R. You walk inside and are just about to heave a sigh of relaxation when suddenly your phone buzzes. You pull it out and it’s Johnson needing some quick help on the Smith report. Ok you think I’ll just get this over with then it’s me time. A couple of hours later and you’ve finished.
You go to the shower, run it on hot, when your phone buzzes again. You look at it and it’s your boss telling you there was an error in your last layout and was wondering if you could come in that weekend. Excellent. Now you have your lost weekend to fret about.
Then your phone buzzes again. And again. And again. It’s like you never left the office.
This is a scenario we’re all familiar with. Yet the University of California in Irvine recently released a study pointing out how poor work habits, particularly relating to email, impact a person’s overall health and productivity in the office. How you managing the main mode of communication in the office is a strong indication of how stressful you allow your life to get. Luckily, there are a few simple habits you can do to help bring that blood pressure down:

1)     Delete (Turn Off) Your Email When You Leave Work

This at home doesn’t increase productivity.
It hurts it.

 This is something most of us can do and that is not to take our work home with us. You work at an 9-to-5 office and it should last just that long: from 9 till 5. During that time, your office life can, and often will, get very stressful, so when it’s time for you to go home, leave it at the door. Same way how you leave your personal life at the door of the office. Your time at home is a time for you to kick back and relax because come the next day, it’ll start all over again and your productivity has to be at it’s best. This is impossible if your phone is buzzing off with emails every hour. The key: turn it off. You don’t need to be checking your email constantly. Whatever comes, you can deal with it tomorrow. This is your R&R, and keeping your mind busy with work 24/7 will only make you worse at it, not better.

2)     Create Priority Alerts

Now there are those of us who’s jobs entail a continuous line to the office and cannot afford the luxury of turning off our emails. In this case, the Priority Alert system is your best friend. What this does is allows you to set an alert that goes off only if an email meets the required priority level, which is in this case “high”. What this will do is any urgent emails you receive that cannot wait until tomorrow will be buzzed to you and the ones that are of lesser importance won’t be. The epitome of time management which takes us directly to our next point.

3)     Don’t Chain Events

Once you take care of that urgent email, you have to resist the urge to look and take care of the rest. Do NOT chain events. Once you start down this road, you won’t finish until it is 4 hours into your home time and you’re productivity and health will take the hit. This crucial time management skill will benefit you in both the long and short run. So stick to that one important email and that one email alone.

4)     Auto-sort: Use It

What’s something that nobody wants
but everybody has?

This is a habit for within the office, as opposed to outside it. Use the auto-sort. Create folders such as “meeting minutes”, “Smith project details”, or “misc.” and set your email to automatically filter them into those folders. What this will do is greatly unclutter your inbox and reduce that awful sinking-in-the-gut feeling when you see torrents of unread emails are awaiting you. By automatically sorting your emails, you can instead visit each folder in turn and deal with their respective emails, thereby boosting your productivity with a time management system.

5)     Learn To Ignore

This is a reiteration of a part of a previous step, but it’s important enough to be reiterated. Learn to ignore some emails. Not permanently, but until it’s time to deal with them. This habit is perfect in and out of the office. If it isn’t urgent and your busy working, then ignore it. Worst comes to worst, they will call you. But in the office, learn to stay focused on the task at hand and out of the office, learn to stay focused on yourself. This is possibly one of the hardest habits for employees to develop.

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