Barbara Corcoran doesn't have a minute to waste.
She's up at 6:30 every morning and kicks things off with a fairly regimented routine. She described how she gets it all done recently for The Cut.
Most of her morning is focused on her daughter. By 8:05, the Shark Tank millionaire has cooked her daughter breakfast, packed her lunch, and made sure she's ready for school. (Family is important to Corcoran, so much that she asks prospective employees about theirs in interviews. It's how she weeds out complainers.)
Then it's off to races.
With a jam-packed day, there's one major nuisance that Corcoran just can't be bothered with. She hates email.
"With email, the whole world comes across at you, and it's terrible," Corcoran told The Cut. "I don't know why it took me so long to see the enemy as clearly as I did."
Step one to taking control of her inbox? Corcoran took her work email off her phone. This move could be anxiety-inducing for some, because that would just mean all those emails would be going unread, waiting in your inbox, magically multiplying the way unread emails seem to do.
But Corcoran doesn't stop there. She goes so far as to let people know not to bother her. It's all in her auto-reply, which goes to every single recipient who sends her an email.
Thank you for reaching out. I'll not be answering your email, but if you would please forward this to [my assistant] Emily, or if you need immediate attention, please call her at the office.
Corcoran still has personal email on her phone. If a business email really needs her attention, her assistants will forward it to her personal address. She says she used to get between 700 and 800 emails a day. The day before the interview, she received only three.
Applying Corcoran's strategy to your own inbox.
I know exactly what you're going to say, because I thought it, too.
I'm not Barbara Corcoran.
I'm not worth a reported $66 million.
I don't have an assistant, let alone several.
I can't just delete my inbox and delegate managing the whole thing to someone else.
But what you can do is manage the amount of time you spend with your email inbox. From turning off notifications to reducing how often we check our email from every three seconds to a few times a day, better email habits could serve us all better.
Here's what's especially important, and what you can take away from Corcoran's email liberation approach. If you do try out a more extreme form of email management, take a page out of her book.
It may be worth drafting an auto-reply that gives recipients a head's up about when (or in her case, if) they can expect a reply back. Here's why hers works well.
1. She doesn't apologize.
Corcoran's email approach may be unconventional, but she's not going to apologize for it. Every email does not demand an instant reply -- or a reply at all. Why say sorry?
Even if you do eventually get back, there's no need to apologize if it takes a few hours or even a few days. Consider slashing the "Sorry for the delayed reply ..." from your email vocabulary. Don't set the expectation that it's abnormal to take a little time to reply.
2. It's nice, but direct.
Corcoran has opted out of one of the most important communication channels in today's working world. Everyone else emails. Why shouldn't she?
If written differently, Corcoran's auto-reply could come off as snobbish or rude. Instead, she is gracious and to-the-point. She thanks the recipient, then tells them what they need to do if they want to get in front of her.
3. It doesn't leave people hanging.
We live in a high-volume 24/7 email world. People are glued to their screens and may expect you to be the same way.
Communicating to people that you're just not gonna play that game is important. Otherwise they might think you fell off a cliff -- or just feel extremely slighted or pissed off.
Get ahead of it. Let people know that you're going off the grid for a bit or that you'll be checking email less frequently. Depending on the nature of your work, you may want to give them an alternate way to contact you for urgent matters like your cell phone or personal address.
Or, once you've made your millions, send them to your assistant.