Let's face it! Most of the time, you check email because you're unsure what to do-- or don't want to do what you should do.

Years ago, a client told me, "I make lists of things I've already done because it's so much fun to check them off!" Checking email provides the same adrenalin rush. It's addictive!

Fixing the problem is simple but not easy: Your email box must always be subordinate to your to-do list. You will improve your productivity dramatically by checking email once or twice a day, and you will experience an even more dramatic effect if you hire someone else to do it for you.

I know it sounds scary! I hesitated for years, and when I finally leaped, I regretted taking so long. The extra time you will gain can be used working ON your system rather than in it -- or even better, reading a good book or taking a power nap.

Like everything we teach in Productive Environment Institute (PEI), you need a SYSTEM: Saving You Space Time Energy Money™ for managing and or delegating your email. There are many options. Every system has three components:

1. Methodology

2. Mechanics

3. Maintenance

So let's apply that to email:

1. Methodology

If you search "how to simplify your email," you'll get dozens of answers. All of them will work IF you work them. So how do you decide? As the core belief of PEI teaches, "Clutter is Postponed Decisions®," and it's far less critical WHAT method you choose than it is that you make a decision -- and stick with it -- at least 90 days. This will give you enough experience to evaluate what you like or don't like about the method so that you can make a better choice next time.

2. Mechanics

After you have chosen your method, the next step is to figure out how you will implement it. This step includes whether you will continue to answer your email. If you do, you need to plan when, how often, and what aspects of the email platform you will utilize. One of the biggest failures in email management is understanding and implementing how the technology can help you if you take the time to learn it.

3. Maintenance

As James Clear eloquently writes in his book Atomic Habits, "We don't rise to the level of our goals. We fall to the level of our systems." Your email is a habit; the point is to make it a good one!

So, here's my last question: Are you willing to continue paying the price you are paying today regarding email stress? You will likely receive emails for decades more, and I promise you this: from my experience, the older you get, the more challenging it is to change your habits. Help is available, and I promise you, it's easier than you think!

Author's Bio: 

In 1978, Barbara took out a $7 ad in a New York City newspaper to advertise her professional organizer business. For 20 years, she focused her business on organizing paper and physical clutter for home offices and organizations. Then the Internet Age came about, and she utilized her principles and expertise to help clients with digital clutter.

Over the past 40+ years Barbara has helped 1000's of companies, and became an icon and top expert in the industry. She has been featured on national media platforms such as Good Morning America, The Today Show and CNN Nightly News. She has also been showcased in publications including USA Today, New York Times, Fast Company, Reader’s Digest, Real Simple and Guideposts.

Barbara and her team teach business owners a 9-step system to go from overwhelmed to optimized. Step 1 is a free Assessment that can be found at https://scorecard.productiveenvironment.com/