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Foil the email time bandit

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How many times a day to you check your email? Do you check your email if you are in the middle of another project, on a phone call with a client or even face-to-face with someone? We are so connected in this day and age, but are we really getting more work done? Email is like texting and driving: a dangerous distraction from your more immediate priorities.

For a salesperson or business owner, checking email can actually be a counterproductive activity. Virtually any email can wait for an hour or more before being addressed. Some emails can even—dare I say?—wait a whole day.

The solution is to turn your email program off and on. Seems very simple, but you will discover that life truly changes when you turn your email on only periodically throughout the day. You may even consider scheduling time for email in your calendar, so it doesn’t bleed over into the work you get paid to do. And turn off your notifications, because although you may shut off email on your computer, it can still come through on your phone or tablet.

There are some great tools for controlling your inbox, too. One I came across recently is SaneBox saves you time by moving distracting emails out of your inbox and into a “SaneLater” folder. The program uses an algorithm to prioritize emails on the basis of your past interaction with senders. Right now, it works with Outlook as well as Gmail. A lifesaver for prioritizing!

I get nearly 300 emails a day. Most of my emails are business related, some are subscriptions and others are just junk. But some of my emails are so interesting and compelling that I just want to jump into them and read them right away. An email note from an old friend, seemingly constant email updates on sports and politics, a few Facebook notifications and pictures from my sister and brother (just some of my emails yesterday). I want to read them all and I can—just not while I’m on the phone with a client or in the middle of another project. It is a matter of commitment.

Email needs a place and a priority level, because if you don’t control your email, it will control you. Learn to tame this beast and you may find that all of a sudden you have more time for marketing, sales and networking.

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Maribeth Kuzmeski is the founder of Red Zone Marketing, LLC, which consults to Fortune 500 firms on strategic marketing planning and business growth. For more information, go to


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