It is Unacceptable When You Miss Something Important Because You Failed to Check Your Mail on Time

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I am reading this argument by Matt disagreeing on a post made at livedev on refraining from checking your mail at night and avoiding it as your first read of the day. The reasons presented on “why you don’t put your mail as your top priority” is lame and unacceptable. Matt summarizes it as:

To summarize, the author describes the perils of checking your e-mail at night or first thing in the morning. The core argument is that mail can take a while to get through, with messages like funny videos making it very easy to become derailed for 2 hours just surfing the net. Instead of being productive by checking your mail regularly you are burning up the most precious working hours or staying up too late and not get enough sleep.

I heard so many times over how a superior or manager got so pissed off when a staff missed something on a simple reason of not being able to check the mail right away. It is a lame excuse that reflects basic skills you ought to have mastered already.

Experience in Point
One time during a meeting attended by the highest executives of both the client and our firm, a team lead explained he was out of synch because he was not able to read his email for the last two hours prior to the meeting which was held around midnight his time because it was a multi-site conference call; meaning, it was six hours past office schedule; but still, the highest executive replied sharply — reading emails to be on top of the most important things is easy to manage, which you obviously can’t do, you may continue with this lame excuse but kiss your promotion good bye. There was dead silence from everyone for a few seconds and you know how serious the executive was with the message.
Once I got burnt by my manager when I did not read my email upon arriving at work, because I did not learn that a sudden reorganization happened overnight to address a critical stage of our development, which put me in a different role. Obviously for the first hour of work, I was doing the task I left the day before and planned on finishing it first before I started reading mails a few hours after. I argued that I didn’t want to be distracted and wanted to be productive right from the start of the day. My manager was in disbelief and asked me back — Why is reading mails a distraction? You have to learn how to manage emails intelligently that will work to your advantage instead of emails managing you. He adds by quoting a well known leader about a person’s failure because he either was not on the right place at the right time, or was at the right place without realizing it was already time to cash in. Anyways, I could not get the exact quote he said but the point is loud and clear.
Manage your emails and do not let emails manage you
If you cannot manage emails in such a way that it would work to make you productive then you would not be able to manage bigger and more complex things.
How do I manage emails?
I receive an average of 500 work related emails everyday and the last thing I want is to miss something important because I overlooked my inbox or failed to check it right away. Below are simple things I do which helps me manage emails.
1. Rules and Folder – I use Outlook and setup alerts and rules that would help me automatically arrange email to folders and mailboxes depending on priority. I make sure that top management have individual folders placed on top of my list so that I could see it before anything else.
2. Alerts – I have setup Outlook to alert me of incoming mails from top management or
important people directly related to my project. Whenever emails arrive from these people, a pop-up screen appears, complete with red highlights and customized message indicating that it was of the highest priority.
3. Sweeping Scan – The first thing I do is to make a sweeping scan of hundreds of emails I receive while asleep at night or while in transit going home after office. I make sure I scan folders from the most important people first and go to the least important once.
4. Prioritize – After making a sweeping scan by reading the subject line of the emails I received, I prioritize which ones need immediate attention and the ones that can be put later. In my mail prioritization, project or role tasks hold the highest priority followed by internal technical communities then administrative emails. The least priority in my inbox are forwarded messages, videos, quotes, etc. which I put off reading at a later time, sometimes it takes me the next vacation or Christmas before I actually spend time on those mails.
The point I am trying to drive is that emails could easily distract you from important tasks but never allow becoming a slave of your inbox. A person who cannot manage his mails efficiently is a person no manager would want to promote. It is a lame excuse to argue putting off reading emails because it is a disruptive tool. It is a reflection of your basic management skills so ensure you put off a good impression on it.
[tags]Emails, Career, Management[/tags]

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