You should work to manage of your incoming data with the fewest possible moves; including e-mail, voice mail, real-time phone calls and regular mail. It’s doesn’t take long for incoming data to constantly demand your attention and drain your day. Good workplace habits come from working smart and with control.
If you receive new e-mails and voice mails all day long, schedule a couple of times per day to check them. (E.G., first thing in the morning and right after lunch.) Read or listen to messages and determine their priority; particularly with regard to current schedules. If necessary or appropriate, send off a prompt answer (promising follow-up, when required).
- Use the two-minute rule to process your e-mail. If it takes less than two minutes to answer a message, do it then file or delete the message.
- Use folders to organize messages.
- IMMEDIATELY delete any messages you do not need to keep.
- Use follow-up flags or dated calendar alarms to bring forward e-mail when it needs attention.
- Voice Mail
- Review your voice messages, take notes and delete them.
- Respond to those that fit the two-minute rule.
- Schedule the others for follow-up, as appropriate.
- Postal mail
- Open your post once a day.
- Toss the junk or the unneeded paper into the bin.
- Use the two-minute rule.
- File those that are just for information. Delegate what you can. Place in rest in a follow-up system, so that it comes to your attention, when you need it and not before.
Finally, don’t get into the habit of reading every e-mail, as it arrives, or even answering the phone every time it rings. Answer calls from people you are waiting for. Otherwise, use voice mail. Your goal is to have systems in place to ensure that you manage incoming communication within your schedule, rather than letting it manage or even overwhelm your schedule.