Professional development and training blog of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)
October 27, 2009

Slaying the E-mail Monster Checklist

Muda is the Japanese word for wasted effort. Even though you are working hard, up to eight hours per week is wasted effort. Following this checklist recovers those hours and allows you to focus on projects that matter most to your success. Here is a quick list from Tuesday, November 10 presenters Lynn Coffman, Mike Valentine and Henry DeVries, APR:

Step 1:

  • Create a place for every e-mail and put every e-mail in its proper place. 
  • Touch e-mails only once in your inbox.
  • Set up 01 action folder.
  • Set up 02 follow up folder.
  • Set up 03 read folder.
  • Brainstorm all the projects you are working on.
  • Set up project folders; include a personal folder and contact folder.
  • When you get a new major project, set up a new numbered folder.
  • Set up e-mail to view without preview pane.
  • Organize e-mails from oldest to newest.
  •  Arrange that when you finish one e-mail it automatically opens the next e-mail.

Step 2:

  • Now proceed through inbox and completely empty it, processing with four A’s.
  •  Axe it (delete).
  •  Act on it (handle in less than two minutes); possibly turn into contact.
  •  Assign it (sent to folders 1-3 or file to folders 04 +.
  • Allocate it (create task with start and end date the same and append).

Step 3:

  • Decide how many times a day you will check e-mail (four to six).
  • Completely empty e-mail each time.
  • Turn off e-mail ding bell and ghost e-mail preview.
  • When sending e-mail, have subject line be seven to 10 words on what you want recipient to do.

By Henry J. DeVries, APR, marketing faculty, UC San Diego Marketing.

Join Henry, along with Michael Valentine and Lynn Coffman for “Dramatically Increase Productivity by Slaying the E-mail Monster” at the PRSA 2009 International Conference: Delivering Value, Nov. 7–10, in San Diego, CA!

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