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11 Oct

How to avoid getting stuck in your e-mail

Datum: 2021-10-11 13:35

Con­tactA com­mon struc­ture-pit­fall is to get stuck in your e‑mail. We have a to-do-list and per­haps we even trans­ferred it into the lat­est app some­one rec­om­mend­ed to us, but when we arrive at work in the morn­ing and turn on the com­put­er, it lets out a loud ping” and the sub­stan­tial list of new e‑mails we have received appears.

We hap­pen to see an e‑mail which was writ­ten in a slight­ly angry tone, and we start deal­ing with what is con­cerns right away. As we are com­pos­ing a care­ful­ly writ­ten response, anoth­er e‑mail drops into the inbox, and then anoth­er. Through­out the day we attend a few meet­ings and use our breaks to process and reply to anoth­er few e‑mails.

As we are gath­er­ing our belong­ings and get­ting ready to leave at the end of the day, it occurs to us that Right, we had a to-do-list to deal with as well!”. And when we open it, it con­tains a few things which real­ly need­ed to get done today.

We have no choice but to work overtime.

Make the list eas­i­ly available
If this sounds famil­iar you need to make it easy to pri­mar­i­ly pick tasks and assign­ments from the to-do-list, and there­by make it eas­i­er to remem­ber the tasks which do not arrive in the form of an e‑mail.


Here are four sug­gest­ed meth­ods. Choose one which you believe will suit you depend­ing on what tools you use.

You can for instance try one of the following

  1. If you keep your to-do-list in a web ser­vice, change the set­tings for your com­put­er so that the inter­net brows­er and the page with the web ser­vice opens auto­mat­i­cal­ly when you turn on the computer.

  2. If you use a Mac, then use the quick-launch app Alfred to cre­ate a script which launch­es all the pro­grams and doc­u­ments you want to open before you start working.

  3. If you are using Outlook’s Tasks-func­tion, change the set­tings so that the first win­dow dis­played as Out­look opens is not the E‑mail, but the Tasks-list (to do this you click File / Alter­na­tive / Advanced / Start and close Out­look / Browse… (next to Start Out­look in this fold­er”) and choose the win­dow you want dis­played when the pro­gram starts).

  4. If you keep your to-do-list on paper, place the list on you com­put­er key­board before leav­ing the office every after­noon. You will not be able to open the e‑mail with­out first mov­ing the to-do-list.

First pri­or­i­ty becomes the right priority
If you make it easy for your­self to become aware of your to-do-list you will from now on pri­or­i­tize more accu­rate­ly. You will not be as tempt­ed to pri­or­i­tize some­thing which you should not just because you received the task through a chan­nel which you have a ten­den­cy to tune in and pay atten­tion to (such as your e‑mail). 

What is your way?
How do you make sure you remem­ber that you have a to-do-list and then actu­al­ly use it? Tell me!