I don’t know about you, but I get a lot of emails and managing them can be quite a headache for me. I pastor a church and run a couple of organizations so I happen to have a few different email accounts. I use Mail for Mac to manage all of them, so they all come to one place and are put into their appropriate account folders, but it can still be overwhelming for me. Some of this is due to the number of emails I may get, but it also has to do with my personality.
I manage them in a number of different ways but there are a few different things I do that has really helped me to stay on top of them (which may or may not work for you). Nobody seems to talk about these things, so I thought I would throw some tips out that I’ve adapted and have shared with staff/interns/friends that have asked:
1. Respond to Colossae Church email first. Even though I get a lot of email for other organizations I lead or for speaking requests/details, the church I pastor is my first ministry responsibility. So, before I go to other accounts I do my best to make sure I am all caught up on getting back to the people in my church or those inquiring about our church.
2. I have a personal account. I have my close friends and family email me on this account specifically. I don’t create different compartments to my life (my life is my ministry and my ministry is my life), but there are certain people – like my wife! – that I have email me to a specific account versus others.
3. Nothing left to do. When I respond to an email I make sure I have nothing else to do after I send it. For instance, if I’m setting up a meeting with someone, I may issue dates/times, but then leave it up to them to get back to me. Or, I may ask them to give me some dates/times. Or, if I need to research something or check my calendar or do anything else I make sure I do all of that before I respond to the email. Whatever the case, I know that when I send it off I have been faithful with everything I need to do and have nothing more to follow up on. This free’s my mind AND my to-do-list!
4. I don’t save or manage them. Because I don’t have anything to do after I respond, I delete my emails from my inbox once I send it off. They are still in “trash” and not permanently deleted but they truly are out of sight and out of mind. Getting through my inbox is tough enough, I don’t need to manage every other folder too – that totally stresses me out.
5. I utilize other staff a lot. When another staff person can respond to something better than I can, I pass it along. We have discussed what to do in different circumstances – and many times they do it without me ever seeing an email – but if I pass an email along to them I delete it after doing so. They know I do this so it’s on them to follow through. This again free’s my mind and my to-do-list.
Have any other practical tips you can offer?