Make your email serve You

There have been times where I have spent most of my working day replying to and sending emails. Not because I had 8 hours of emails to send, but because when I’m busy and overwhelmed – basically, if I’m not crystal clear on what I am working on, and how far I want to get with those tasks – I will procrastinate like hell. And email is my kryptonite in this situation.

I know I’m not the only one who has had struggles keeping their inbox in check. With so much of our work overlapping into emails, and a ridiculous (in my view) expectation for instantaneous responses, it’s easier than ever to feel out of control with your email.

It might not seem a particularly important topic to have written about. And what does it have to do with making a positive [read radical] difference anyway?


  1. I know – with great certainty – that I won’t look back on my final moments of this life and remember the mind-blowing emails I wrote. I will not cherish the day’s consumed in this way.
  2. Not only is it a fantastic waste of time in itself, it’s also time I’m not spending on a purpose driven project, and actually tangibly making a difference.
  3. ‘Getting lost’ in email means I’m being passive, present and reactive. Which also means I’m not thinking ahead, visioning, strategising, creating ideas – and all the other good stuff that is not only part of being human, but is also essential to creating change.

So, to reign in my rogue email habits and make sure I am firmly in control of email (and it is not in control of me) I have captured my strategy. I share it with you in the hope that if you have ever struggled with this it will help you too.


  • For email to be time-limited – long enough to create value connecting with clients and colleagues. That’s all.
  • For email to serve me. Not a source of procrastination.


  1. Be really clear on who I need to connect with before I start to actually write emails. For me this means literally making a list of people I will contact and starring emails so I can check them off as I go. The added benefit of this clarity is I’ll know if I get distracted or go off-piste!
  2. Be really clear on how long I want to allocate to email. 90 minutes is my magic number. Mentally clocking the time when I start / and or setting an alarm and clocking the time I will finish. It sounds silly but part of the problem with email is it’s insidious and you don’t realise when you float in and out of it. Checking the start and end time is a great way to be conscious and intentional.
  3. Most importantly: I am really clear on what else I need and want to get done in the day as well. To do this I have started a morning writing routine which I will share in the next few blogs.


So my question is, if email fully served you, if it helped you and aided you (not distracted you) in your projects and purpose, how would you manage it differently to now?

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    Copyright ©Joey Clifton 2014 | Website Design by Lisa McLoughlin Art

    © Joey Clifton 2014-15 | Website Design by Lisa McLoughlin Art