Mottley Law Firm July 2019

7/19

THE MOTTLEY CREW REVIEW

www.MottleyLawFirm.com | (804) 823-2011

SLAYING THE EMAIL BEAST

Outlook again until 11 a.m. Outlook stays closed so I can use the best hours of my day to work on the most important things. (This idea is stolen from Tim Ferriss, author of “The 4-Hour Workweek.”) The 4:30 p.m. time block is just like the 11 a.m. one. 2. USE THE 2-MINUTE RULE. In David Allen’s “Getting Things Done,” he espouses the two-minute rule. The rule says that if an item can be dealt with in under two minutes, you must do it now. I have found that this one little hack allows me to blast through my inbox. I’ve also found that most emails can be dealt with in under two minutes because they are garbage. By “dealt with,” I mean either deleted, responded to, or filed away. WHAT’S LEFT. If an email cannot be dealt with in under two minutes, you need to put it where it can be found later when you’re working on the project to which it relates. I have created folders in Outlook to serve this purpose. (This is also stolen from David Allen.) The biggest is “@ Action.” The @Action folder is where I drag and drop any emails that’ll take longer than 2 minutes for me to “deal with.” I have the “@Read” folder for unimportant emails to read in my downtime. Another is “@Waiting,” where I put emails that don’t require me to do anything except wait. An example would be an email from a hotel confirming my reservation. When I check into the hotel, I delete it. 3. USE FOLDERS TO ORGANIZE

Today was a quiet day. I received only 156 emails and sent only 25. If every day was like today, I’d have only 780 incoming emails to process each week and only 125 to send. If I spend at least 30 seconds on each, that’s an entire workday. The Email Beast is very real. If I allowed the Beast to run wild, I’d sit at my desk all day fighting it. You must understand two truths. The first is that, to be successful, you must be able to engage in deep work. By deep work, I mean work that moves you toward your big goals. (On this topic, read “Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World” by Cal Newport.) The second truth is that the Beast’s sole objective is to destroy deep work. In short, you must slay the Beast to succeed. I’m sure you have your way of doing things, and I don’t mean to give the impression that I’ve “figured it all out.” I haven’t. But if you’re like me, you never get enough of trying new things. In that spirit, I offer my tactics for slaying the Beast, all of which I’ve shamelessly stolen from others. 1. HAVE SET TIME BLOCKS TO PROCESS EMAILS. During the workweek, I have three daily “time blocks” when I process emails: 5:30 a.m., 11 a.m., and 4:30 p.m. (On the weekend, I seldom read email.) The first block is a quick “triage” of my inbox to see if any emergencies exist that I can quickly extinguish before I go to the gym. (This approach is stolen from W. Mark Lanier, a Houston, Texas, trial lawyer.) I often do not open

4. AGGRESSIVELY UNSUBSCRIBE. I am an “unsubscribe” fanatic when it comes to unsolicited email. Related to this, my newest approach is to politely ask my team members not to include me in emails unless they require action on my part. 5. SET UP RULES IN OUTLOOK. When I open a new matter here at the firm, I create “rules” in Outlook to automatically capture and file emails relating to the matter. It’s very easy to set up; you just need to get into the habit of doing it. There you have it. The core of my program to slay the Email Beast. Good luck in your own fight to win the battle. -Kevin W. Mottley

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