Let's face it -- emails are a massive timesuck. If I had an hour to spare today, I could think of a million things I could do... and they'd all contribute more to my company than if I simply spent my time answering emails.
So, what's the trick to spending less time on emails?
According to LinkedIn's CEO, Jeff Weiner, you just have to send fewer emails. Weiner says that while this sounds "somewhat overly simplistic", it's actually highly effective.
Here's the backstory: back when Weiner was working at Yahoo, he had many colleagues who were "intense users of email".
After these employees left the company, Weiner noticed a massive drop-off in the emails that he received. He came to realize that emailing back and forth was a vicious cycle: "because they sent out email quite a bit and I responded quite a bit, that would generate more emails, and round and round it would go."
How to Get Into the Habit of Sending Fewer Emails
Today, Weiner has several rules in place to help him send fewer emails. First and foremost, he blocks out certain periods of time in which he doesn't touch his inbox. On top of that, he carefully considers who to include in the "To" field, and who goes in the "Cc." field. According to Weiner, everyone on the "To" line feels the need to respond, and once someone does respond, everyone else will follow suit.
Last but not least, Weiner also says that it makes more sense to arrange for a call instead of communicating via email in certain cases. If you need to discuss a complicated topic or handle a "volatile" situation, for example, a voice call would work better than email.
If You Still Can't Handle Your Inbox...
Sending fewer emails might work for entrepreneurs running small to medium-sized companies. But what happens when your business grows, and you can't keep track of your emails despite limiting the emails you send out?
Personally, I find it's helpful to get an assistant to filter out your emails. This way, you can respond to your important emails quickly, and get your team to handle the rest.
Now, I know what you're thinking... Hiring an assistant? That's gonna cost me -- I don't know if I can afford to do that.
Well, here's the thing: you don't need to be a multi-millionaire to hire an assistant. If you're simply hiring a virtual assistant, this will set you back by just $5 to $20+ per hour of work.
Now, the key to working with an assistant is to communicate your guidelines clearly. For example, you might tell your assistant things like:
Emails from people X, Y and Z should be prioritized
Emails about projects X, Y and Z should be prioritized
Emails about X, Y and Z should be forwarded to other people
Do X, Y and Z when handling a request for a meeting or a call
You might take some time to smoothen things out and get on the same page, but once you do, you'll wonder how you ever lived without an assistant.
Remember, as an entrepreneur, your job is to work ON your business, and not in your business. So stop wasting all your time on emails, and start allocating your time to strategic, revenue-generating tasks!