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The E-mail Conundrum

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get control of your email

Picture this, you are working on an important project with a fast approaching deadline when suddenly an email comes into your inbox and your computer makes a sound alerting you to this new email. What do you do? You know the answer for most people is that they open the email, thereby interrupting their work and train of thought on the time sensitive project. We all have been there and that new email is hard to resist.

I have been speaking to more and more people, who - though clearly in the minority - ignore the new email and plow forward on the project in front of them. You probably are thinking “what do these people do with their email?” They tell me they actually set specific times of the day to review and respond to email. One person told me he reviews email at 8 am and 2 pm each day. Another told me he does so at 11 am and 4 pm each day. These two and others I have spoken to, swear this approach works. They all believe it allows them to truly focus on the things they want and need to work on.

I like the idea, but worry about what time-sensitive email I will miss if I turn off the email notifications and only check it a few times each day. Of course, the answer is to retrain people to call you if they have a true emergency or time-sensitive issue at hand. I still am trying to wrap my head around whether this idea may work for me, but I could get there in the future.

When everyone expects instantaneous response times for emails and other electronic communications, it’s hard to bite the bullet and be less in touch. But it also could be a differentiator. In my case, maybe my clients would appreciate that when I am working on their matter, I am focused on their matter and nothing else.

If any of you work this way or decide to try to do so, I would appreciate feedback on your experience and what feedback you receive about doing so from your colleagues, business partners and clients.

As always, this post and others can be found on my blog, Business Law Guy's Blog.  


About the Author: Neal Bookspan is a partner at the Phoenix, Arizona law firm of Jaburg Wilk. He assists clients with business issues, commercial litigation, workouts, and bankruptcy litigation. Neal can be reached at 602.248.1000.