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Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ Secret To Avoiding Email Overwhelm

Do you look at your inbox and want to cry? If so, you’re not alone. With almost all business being conducted remotely, we’re being bombarded with Zoom webinar invites from all angles. Add in the additional emails between colleagues (because you can’t just shout across the office to Karen anymore), and it can all start to seem like you are trying to ride a tidal wave on a surfboard. So what can you do to handle the situation better? You could wait for it to recede, but you might be hanging around for a LONG time yet.

If you’re looking for the solution to your email woes, let’s start with some of Silicon Valley’s greats.

Bezo’s Delegates

If you want to watch a corporate team start to sweat, see what happens when they get a “?” email from Jeff Bezos. Business Insider reports that the notoriously easy-to-contact Amazon CEO will forward customer complaints to his people and add only a question mark to the original query. You know that a day of reckoning is at hand. Follow Bezos’ lead. Instead of answering all emails yourself, ask, “Can this be better handled by someone else?” Forward it to your team and save yourself the time.

Use Auto Replies

You can also use auto-reply tools to manage the flood. Tommy John CEO Tom Patterson did just that after his emails skyrocketed from 150 to 400 a day. He tells Inc.com that “there weren’t enough minutes in a day to answer all of them.” So he didn’t; he set up an auto-reply to tell people that he only checked email before 9 and after 5 — and to please call or text if it was urgent. The result? “It forced me to delegate and empower others to respond,” he says. Suddenly the flow slowed to a trickle.

Do You Get More Emails Than Bill Gates?

And it really should only be a trickle; Bill Gates reports that he only gets 40–50 emails a day. Ask yourself, “Should I really be getting more emails than Bill Gates?”. One possible cause for email inundation, according to LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, is other employees sending too much email of their own. He writes, “Two of the people I worked most closely with ended up leaving the organisation within the span of several weeks.  After they left I realized my inbox traffic had been reduced by roughly 20–30 percent.” If you have over-communicators in your ranks, ask them to tone back the digital flood. Suggest they message you on Microsoft Teams instead.

“Avoid using email for instant messaging – switch to a tool more suited to the job, such as Microsoft Teams.”

Mark Riddell, m3 NEtworks

Set Boundaries

Creating a hard buffer between your email and your life is another CEO tactic. Arianna Huffington doesn’t check her email for a half hour after waking or before going to bed, and she never touches it around her kids. That space to breathe is essential to maintaining a work-life balance. And if it gets bad enough? Etsy’s Chad Dickerson has a solution: email bankruptcy! He tells Fast Company that every few years, he just deletes everything and starts fresh!

Not all Silicon Valley gurus have it figured out, however. Apple CEO Tim Cook doesn’t get 120 business emails a day. No, according to an ABC interview, he gets closer to 700. He just gets up at the crack of dawn every morning and starts reading. Hint Water CEO Kara Goldin does the same thing, preparing for a 12-hour workday with a marathon email session. But as you can tell from the other people we’ve discussed, this is an exception, not the rule. Emulate Jeff Bezos or Arianna Huffington instead and watch your email stress melt away.

Is Your Inbox Problem Due To Spam?

If your email problem is due to a flood of spam every morning you launch Outlook, then technology can help. A managed email security and filtering solution will almost eliminate spam, ensuring you wake up to a clean inbox each morning. You should consult with your IT provider on what options they can provide you.

If you’d like a chat about how we can help just get in touch.

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