Whether you get 30 messages a day or 330, email can be overwhelming. Today, many of us spend all day in the inbox, replying to requests the moment we hear the ping of email notification. The pressure to deal with bloated email inboxes with increasing speed has hit workers hard in recent years. Some high-profile professionals have even had to declare “e-mail bankruptcy” when their inboxes get out of hand. It’s not just the stress of dealing with email that’s a problem, though. The habit of checking email 10, 20, or 50 times a day hurts productivity and makes it tough to get the real work of the day done. In fact, a 2005 study found that workers distracted by incoming email scored, on average, 16 points lower on IQ tests than those who weren’t distracted – a score lower even than study participants who were exposed to marijuana. But what can we, as workers, do when the world expects immediacy? Should we hire an assistant to help us get through that inbox? Should we work through the night to get the inbox to empty each day? Not necessarily. Instead, we might try an innovative solution called AwayFind.
AwayFind is a simple, but effective way to separate urgent email from messages that can wait. Once you register, AwayFind will create an online form for people to use when sending you an urgent message. This form is shared with your contacts either in your email signature or as part of an auto-response. When the form is submitted by a contact, you’ll receive an urgently-marked email or text message from AwayFind, alerting you that someone needs your help right away. It’s a simple, but brilliant way to let your contacts know that you’re not in your inbox 24/7 but that you will respond if they need you urgently. When I first tried the program, I was hesitant about sending an auto-response to my contacts – and worried about appearing non-responsive to the needs of those I work with. Surprisingly, I found that my contacts were not only tolerant of the AwayFind system, but relaxed in knowing that their messages were received and that there was a trusted way to reach me, if they needed to speed up the response time. My inbox may still be full, but I know that messages there can wait at least a little while, as I make some serious headway on other projects.
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