Email is a powerful tool, yet it’s also a growing burden for school leaders to bear.
It seems that every time we check our email, there’s more coming in, distracting us from what we want to work on.
(That’s why I recommend using a to-do app, such as ToDoist, rather than your email inbox, to manage your tasks and plans for the day.)
If you’re disciplined about it, you can avoid checking your inbox and being distracted a hundred times a day.
But what if you need to be in your email app to send a message?
A lot of your work gets done through other people, so it’s a great use of your time to get others to take action on your behalf. Email is a great delegation tool because:
- It takes very little time
- It’s self-documenting
- You can use text expansion shortcuts for repeated issues, and your secretary can even send email for you
- It’s easy to save the replies (and their attachments, if necessary)—I recommend saving important messages in Evernote
- It’s easy to set yourself a follow-up reminder using a service like FollowUpThen.com
Sending email to get work done is great, but…
It’s Easy To Get Derailed
How often has this happened to you?
You get a great idea, or remember something that needs to be done, so you open up your email to share the idea or delegate the task to someone else.
But before you can create a new message, your inbox pops into view, and you get pulled into the latest crisis. Half an hour later, you’re still responding to email, and you’ve forgotten what you were going to send an email about.
The solution? Don’t look at your inbox. Here’s how.
Three Ways to Avoid Looking At Your Inbox
I have three favorite ways to avoid this phenomenon.
- In Outlook (or other desktop email clients), keep your calendar as your main window, and use a keyboard shortcut (or a toolbar button if you prefer…but really, it’s worth learning the keyboard shortcut) to create a new message.
In Outlook for Windows, it’s CTRL+SHIFT+M. On Mac, it’s CMD+N.
- In Gmail, create a new message without visiting your inbox first by bookmarking this URL. Better yet, put “gmail.com” as a shortcut leading to this page, so you always see the Compose window before your inbox.
- Use Drafts for iPad or iPhone to send email, and don’t even open your email app at all when sending. As a bonus, you can use Siri’s dictation feature to write your message.
Which strategy works best for your setup? Leave a comment and let me know.
This is the kind of strategy I teach in-depth, with video tutorials, in the High-Performance Instructional Leadership Network. (The Drafts and TextExpander tutorials are some of the best work I’ve done so far this year.) If you’re interested in joining individually or as part of a group, take a look and get in touch.