Business advice and education, Business planning

This one trick could protect you from email avalanches while you’re working

Dinushi Dias /

Emails are the bane of most of business people’s existence.

If you’d like to know exactly how much time they rob from you, Washington Post has kindly provided a calculator to give you the “depressing” truth.

So how do you achieve what you want as a business entrepreneur while – buzz – yet another email drops in?

“Just don’t answer it,” says Radiate founder Betty Liu.

She points to this unique email management system used by Tommy John chief executive Tom Patterson, who set up an auto-reply notifying senders he will not be checking emails during 9am to 5pm.

During this time, he can only be reached over mobile in the case of an emergency.

While this has given Patterson time back to focus on what matters in his business, Liu put it to the test to see if it could work for for her too.

After five days, Liu discovered that “not checking email is very healthy”, as well as how very few things are really urgent.

“I realised how often I look at my phone out of boredom or procrastination, and how many precious minutes this habit wastes,” she says.

“The definition of an emergency is apparently very narrow.”

On the downside, however, Liu says, “only bosses can really do this”.

“I doubt this would fly if you were an employee and your boss saw an auto-reply claiming that you were unavailable,” she says.

“The biggest problem with this experiment was the massive email backlog I was left with at the end of the week. It took me a whole additional week to wade through them all.”

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Dinushi Dias

Dinushi Dias is a freelance journalist and a former StartupSmart reporter and multimedia content producer. She is the co-founder of Melbourne-based production house Dinushi & Power.

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