Do the Thinking Once
How many times have you read a new email, decided what it is that you need to do about it and then moved on to something else rather than handle it straight away?
People can read a message many times before they finally respond. Usually, they get another email from a frustrated client or boss reminding them that they haven’t replied to the first message. They immediately read the first email yet again and finally do something about it. The irony is that they thought through what they needed to do a long time ago but they moved on to the next new thing.
Sales Horror Stories
I know a company that lost a guaranteed £250,000 contract because someone forgot to forward an email. She didn't handle it straight away and it got lost competing with the other 348 messages in her inbox.
Another client who was desperate for new sales asked me to work with one of his reps. I found over £30,000 of new leads in his inbox after only 10 minutes of coaching. And that was only from people whose surnames went from A-C. He never admitted how many new leads he'd found by clearing up the rest of his inbox.
Don't make the same mistake
Every time you revisit an email in your inbox that you haven't dealt with you go through the same thinking process to decide what you want to do about it. 99% of the time your decisions about what you want to do won't change.
You need to treat your email inbox in the same way that you treat your letterbox. It's somewhere temporary to hold the new post until you get home, empty it and open your mail.
Replying to every email that you get straight away is not a good idea or something to aspire to. Forgetting about vital messages that need your attention isn't either.
Your inbox is not a good task manager. That's why having a system that you can rely on to remind you of everything that you want to do, emails included, is so important.
Decide what you want to do about a new email the first time you read it. Then update your task manager so that you're not relying on your memory to remind you about what you've decided to do. Finally, get the email out of your inbox so that it's not fighting for space with the hundreds of other messages in there.
This doesn't only apply to email, it goes for everything that's coming at you.
There are so many things that you only need to think through once. If you keep repeating the same thinking process but not getting the thing done that you want to, you're wasting time and cognitive energy.
You have too much valuable work to do for that.