Delete optionReally, you can only make one of four decisions when dealing with your email:

  1. Delete
  2. Do
  3. Delegate
  4. Defer

In this article, you’ll learn about how to make the decision to delete emails - quickly.

Delete.  Delete.  Delete.  (I can’t emphasize the importance of this decision enough!)  The minute some emails come in, you already know “This is a dud, this is nothing, this isn’t even to me, I didn’t ask for this. You must be kidding!” All those things that go through your head with some e-mails we receive. They don’t deserve a reply; you don’t need to save them; you need to just delete them and do that as rapidly as you can.

In some cases, it’s wise to set up rules to help ‘make the decision to delete.’ Let’s say you’ve tried to ask somebody to stop sending you emails, particularly of a certain kind, or you’ve indicated that you want to get off a list or who knows what else, and yet, emails from these folks (or companies) still keep coming in. This is the time to set a rule (and essentially all email programs let you establish rules). In Outlook, when you have an e-mail and you need to set a rule, you right-click on the e-mail and one of the choices is “create rule.” Then you can specify the parameters of the rule, e.g., if it’s from that person’s name, if it has certain words or phrases in the subject line, etc.

Recently when I was working in a woman’s office to help her be more productive, we spent some time (actually, a huge amount of time) working with her email. Now, this person is not a neophyte in the world of software; she is actually a software designer and in fact, she owns the company. Yet, she had never learned how to set up rules in her Outlook e-mail. I showed her how to right-click, set up rules, and she was delighted! She had never known that option was there. So, just because you don’t yet know how to do something doesn’t mean you are stupid or uninformed. It just means you get to learn something new that will help you!

The idea here is that you establish rules so that the minute certain emails show up, then can go right into your deleted items, thereby never even showing up in your inbox. The email flashes in and then it’s out before you even have a chance to notice that it’s there. That is some fast decision-making!

Thinking further about the decision of delete, I know how many times when I’m working in someone’s office and we’re looking at their e-mail and there are between 500 and 5,000 just sitting in the in-box. When we start to go through them the person will say, “I don’t know why I have this. I hate it when I get these kinds of things,” but yet they didn’t delete them. You don’t want to be one of those people, so start deleting more freely.

Dealing with email in a productive manner involves making decisions.  The first, and really the easiest, is delete.  Go to your inbox now and see if you can’t delete at least 10 emails in the next 2 minutes.  Then try for 10 in the next 90 seconds.  Then….well, you get the idea.

SevenSaneIf you like these tips and would like more to help your productivity goals you will want the Get a Plan! Guide® to Seven Sane & Sensible Email Practices part of the Get a Plan! Guides® series designed to give you the ideas and inspiration to do your work easier, faster, and in a more focused fashion.

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