When I sat down at my computer I was instantly overwhelmed. I opened my email and it was overflowing. I knew there were messages in there that needed my attention. There were emails from current clients, prospective clients, and colleagues looking for information. There were opportunities that I needed to decide whether or not to take advantage of. And that was only some of it.

I had a choice. I could either, shut my email and let it wait until later (very tempting!), OR I could set my timer for thirty-seven minutes.

I set my timer and here's what I did.

1. I changed the order of my emails from date order (most recent on top) to "from". This way everything from one person was together. This made it easier for me to make sure that I would be able to respond to everything that someone needed at one time and not have to send multiple emails.

2. I did a quick scan and deleted the majority of the ezines I receive. I'm pretty good about unsubscribing to ezines that don't add consistent quality; however, when I'm feeling overwhelmed by what's coming in and really want to focus the less that I have in my inbox the better.

3. I scanned through everything and responded to CURRENT clients. My clients are my number one priority. They deserve my time more than anyone else.

4. I did a second scan and responded to PROSPECT clients. My reasoning for this is because it's important to me to make sure that they receive a quick response from me and if appropriate a link to my calendar to schedule a time to speak with me.

5. I resorted my email to date order with the oldest emails first and dealt with them all. When I say dealt I mean just that. I did not leave things in my inbox for later. I made decisions. If something needed filing I filed it. If something needed a response I responded. If something needed a decision (most of these things did) I decided. If there was something that I wanted to read I read it. If I did not want to deal with it I deleted it or created a plan to deal with it at a specific time.

When thirty-seven minutes passed I reset the timer for another thirty-seven minutes. When the timer went off the second time I was done. I was also incredibly relieved.
Sure I deleted emails that were "important". I know, however, that the burden I was feeling by the unanswered emails in my inbox was distracting me and costing me my focus and energy. I kept thinking that something that I should have known about was going to jump up and surprise me. I also know that the decisions I made and acted on during that time will grow my business and have a positive impact on my clients. When my mind is pre-occupied by what I'm missing, it's impossible for me to think about being proactive and thinking about business growth.

You might be wondering, why thirty-seven? Simple, it's not too long and it's not too short. You can get a lot done in thirty-seven minutes and not get burnt out. And besides, it's a fun number.

What's lurking in your inbox that you can act on? What is it time to delete?

Author's Bio: 

Carrie Greene is a speaker, trainer, coach and author of Chaos to Cash. She helps entrepreneurs cut through the confusion and chaos surrounding them so they make decisions, stop spinning and procrastinating and make more money. Free resources at http://www.CarrieThru.com and http://carriethru.com/programs/chaostocashbook/excerpt/