Managing Your Inbox Overwhelm – Part 2

When I say “inboxes” I’m talking not just talking about your email inbox, but also any messages or requests that come to you during your workday that you need to manage.

You know—that huge, never-ending pile of uncompensated work that seems to suck up your work days …

But smart strategies can make your inboxes manageable.

Last time we talked about handling emails, messages, and requests by creating your inbox management system or protocol.

Today we’ll cover the one touch philosophy, and how to plan for productivity during your inbox management time.

Subscribe To The One-Touch Philosophy

The one-touch philosophy means you want to handle any individual item or request only once.

In order to do that you need to develop protocols.

Consider what your support staff can do to both prepare and close out the tasks involved so you only have to touch it once.

Think about how your support staff can prepare the request, present it to you for your decision or direction, and then follow up with the patient (or other requesting party) to close out the loop.

Create separate protocols for how you will handle lab results, pharmacy requests, UM requests, patient requests, and any other items you deal with routinely.

During your designated inbox time, open your message then, depending on what the situation calls for, immediately either:

  • answer it
  • delegate it to support staff or others as indicated, or
  • delete it

Remember, the goal is One-Touch for all your inbox items.

Yes, there will be some that require a second touch for a variety of reasons, but think about how getting 80% of your inbox items handled with a single touch from you—how much that would improve the efficiency of your workday, reduce your stress, and improve the ease and flow of your day.

Plan For Productive Time

You’ve scheduled your inbox management time on your calendar, now you need to set yourself up for success in managing the tasks during the time allotted.

A little planning can go a long way in helping you accomplish this by eliminating/minimizing distractions and interruptions during your inbox management time.

Close your door and/or put on headphones to signal to others that you’re not to be interrupted

Turn on Focus Time or Do Not Disturb settings to silence notifications on your computer while you work.

Silence and put away your phone while you work so you’re not tempted to pick it up to check personal email or scroll social media.

Train your staff not to interrupt you during your focus time, and when/how you want them to communicate with you.

Note: Emergent exceptions aside, stay out of your inboxes except during the designated times on your schedule. Should you find yourself with unexpected free time due to a cancellation or no-show, rather than jumping on to social media or your inbox, take a few minutes to recharge your battery with deep breathing, mindfulness, or meditation.

For a quick recap of Inbox Management: Handling Emails, Messages, And Requests

  • Create your protocols/systems.
  • Schedule time in your days for Inbox management.
  • Honor the schedule you create and plan for success during your Inbox management time.
  • Adopt the one-touch philosophy, using support staff where possible to help manage requests.

I encourage you to start practicing these processes and figuring out what works for you.

Putting in the time upfront to deploy these strategies and hone the related skills will pay you dividends.

This is the secret sauce to getting your work done on time so you can have a life outside of work and really enjoy your personal time.

Decide to invest the time needed to develop these effective processes and skills.

You’re totally worth it.

Your future self will thank you.

Here’s to creating more ease and flow in your workdays,