Scott Hodge

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Email Stress (via a really long post to make up for a few days of no blogging…)

Mar 6, 2006
5 Comments

I’m not sure how well you keep up on your emails, but for me it seems to be a continual struggle.  To give you an idea of things, here’s what happens during a typical (ha, ha…) week for me:

Monday – My day off.  Emails are my last priority on this day and often get completely neglected. 

Tuesday – In the office before 7am and usually leaving the office by 10:30pm or
sometimes 11:00pm.  My primary time for replying to emails is between
7:30am – 9:00am.  I usually attack my inbox pretty aggresively during
that time and then sometimes again around 4 or 5pm.

Wednesday – Wednesday is also a pretty good email day for me.  I’m
usually in the office or offsite working and try to stay on top of my inbox.

Thursday – My study day.  Cell phone is shut off.  Email is not replied to (there are always a few exceptions…), IM is kept off most of the day and my #1 priority on this day is to write, write, write.

Friday – Big weekend prep day.  Emails are pretty much my last priority on Fridays as well. 

Saturday – Saturday is spent studying, writing, editing and rehearsing my message for Sunday.  Emails arne’t even looked at outside of some quick scans for urgent "weekend" stuff.

Sunday – Up at 4am, at Starbucks by 5am, in my office journaling and reading by 5:30′ish.  Once 7:30am hits, I am running full steam ahead until at least 1:30pm.  Emails aren’t even looked at until the evening and I’m usually so wasted (Holy Hangover) by Sunday night that I can’t even make sense of what I’m reading anyway…

For me, Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the two days that seem to work best for me to sit down and go through my emails.  What tends to happen is that someone will email me on Wednesday through Friday and I won’t even get to it until Tuesday of the following week. 

To help with this, I just recently purchased a Blackberry and that has seemed to help quite a bit.  There is some good downtime to take advantage of while I’m driving.  (Ok, I’m kidding, I don’t mess with the Blackberry while I’m driving.  I learned my lesson the first day I had it and almost drove into a tree while replying to an instant message.  Not good…)  But the Blackberry is nice if I’m somewhere waiting for an appointment, sitting in traffic or travelling.

Other than that, here are a few of my personal email "rules" that I have adopted to help me stay focused on the important stuff:

  1. I don’t read forwards unless there is a personal note attached – and even then, it has to be from someone I know and who doesn’t forward me often.
  2. I keep my replies very, very brief.  If the email is from someone I don’t know very well, I will usually make it a bit longer.  But if I’m answering staff or close friends, it is usually kept pretty brief.
  3. If there isn’t a subject line, I pretend that the email isn’t really there.  (Ok, I’m only half kidding, but for Pete’s sake, use the subject line!  There a purpose behind that!)
  4. If the email does not need to be replied to by me personally, I will forward it to my assistant to handle.  (There are exceptions…)
  5. If an email is a confrontation from someone or a "serious" matter, I WILL NOT reply back via email.  Those types of emails deserve phone call replies.  Email is a sucky, sucky, sucky, sucky way to communicate certain issues.  (We’ll leave this for another blog post…)
  6. If an email is somewhat long but not broken up into short paragraphs I start to twitch and go for my delete button.  (Break it up people!  Better yet – get to the point!)

Anyway – there’s a point to all of this crazy email talk.  I found a site the other day that seems to offer some helpful ideas/thoughts on handling emails.  It’s called Email Overloaded and it’s written by a guy named Itzy Sabo.  (More than anything I just really like the guy’s name!  It’s fun to say out loud…

According to the blog, Itzy…

…spends all his time developing practical solutions for email overload. …analyzes the causes of email overload, discusses strategies to cope with the constant bombardment, and provides practical tips for getting the most out of our email programs.

Check out Email Overloaded here.


5 Responses to “Email Stress (via a really long post to make up for a few days of no blogging…)”

  1. no worship. no iPod.

    I have a week off! I still have to work at my day job of course, but this is the first week in the past two months that I won’t be leading worship! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not

  2. Kent Shaffer says:

    Interesting post, Scott.
    A recent artcile from ClickZ mentioned a study that showed emails are most likely to be read on Fridays.
    See:
    http://www.clickz.com/stats/sectors/email/article.php/3580291
    I wonder how many other pastors find it difficult to read emails at the end of the week because of sermon preparation? We already know that the lives of Pastors are quite different from Average Joe’s, but just how different are they? It definitely makes one consider how much pastors differ from the statiscal majority.

  3. Betsy says:

    Amen, amen, amen to #5. When will people learn that you can’t communicate anything sensitive by email? It only adds to the misunderstanding, offense or hurt feelings!!!

  4. Terri says:

    thanks Scott for your emailing tips. :)

  5. nice blog… are you hip to 43 Folders? It’s a good place to read about productivity… check this out…
    http://www.43folders.com/2005/09/19/writing-sensible-email-messages/

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