Find The Delete Key

Delete KeyThere is a daily tyranny with our email that is relentless. People can push work onto us regardless of our plans and good intentions every day.

When you look over the myriad emails you have received in the last week, did you find the same thing I do? Most of the email is not actionable or relevant. Thus, you can safely guess that the next thousand emails you will receive will be something you delete.

Learning how to delete quickly can keep your head above water during the demands of a workday. Take a few minutes and incorporate this new habit into how you do your work:

  1. Identify the shortcut. If you are using Outlook, simply use the Delete key. In Google Apps and Gmail, simply use the “#” key. Shortcuts allow you to move faster and stay on your keyboard. Working from a list of your emails, you can move quickly through the stack to narrow down what you should be looking at. Either delete or skip the email.
  2. Change your list view settings. Ensure that your email program allows you to move to the next email after deleting or reading instead of back to your main list view. It’s an extra step otherwise. This little step can help you move quickly through your email.
  3. Manage by batch. If you are checking email continually, it is highly disruptive to your flow of work. Instead try checking at scheduled intervals. This is more effective for your attention and focus. Try 11 AM and 4 PM for example. Then move through your list and delete the emails that are irrelevant right away.
  4. Unsubscribe. For emails that you get repeatedly that are not relevant, take an extra step and unsubscribe. It will save you time and attention in the long run.

If you focus on just deleting what is not actionable or useful, then it helps create some quick order to your information world. I expect as you use your shortcuts over time, that key will become well worn compared to any other. The truth is that most of the stuff that comes at you can be ignored and discarded.

Let me know how it’s working by commenting below. Keep deleting.


Published by Don Dalrymple

I partner with founders and entrepreneurs in startup businesses. I write and consult on strategy, systems, team building and growing revenue.

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