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Do You Know How to Read E-Mail?

I recently realized that I actually have a system for checking my e-mail. I actually “caught” myself doing it and realized that I do it continually.

Of course you do! Don’t you do it every day? We all check and recheck our e-mail on a regular basis, but do you know how to do it efficiently and quickly, yet pay the proper attention to the ones that really need your response?

I recently realized that I actually have a system for checking my e-mail. I actually “caught” myself doing it and realized that I do it continually.

Let me share my system with you and see if it won’t work for you.

—    First, I go through all the new ones and send the spam to the junk folder. It isn’t supposed to get through, but you know how that goes.
—    Second, I look at the subjects and decide what I won’t read. I know, I know, I should read them all, but realistically I just can’t. We are all on lists that involve subjects that we just aren’t interested in. For instance, all of our children have graduated from high school. I am no longer an expert on potty training, grade school, or teaching with a toddler. There are other mothers on the list who are, so I leave those topics to them.

Just doing these first two things really cleans out my daily e-mails to a manageable amount.

The remainder of them fall into several categories:
—    First, I get several devotionals that are daily posts.
—    Second, I get several newsletters that I read thoroughly from beginning to end.
—    Third, I get several newsletters that I scan.
—    Forth, personal e-mails that I like to read slowly and savor.

The devotional ones I like to read first thing in the morning —they sort of “jump start” my quiet time. Since I am very selective about what I subscribe to,  I know these will often hold a special “word” that will really speak to me or get me started in a direction I think the Lord is leading me.

After my quiet time and before my devotionals with my young adults I check any personal e-mails and respond to any that I can do quickly. The others go on my pray-about, or to-do lists.

If I still have time, I quickly scan the newsletters that I just keep up with.

Then throughout the day I take breaks to savor the longer personal e-mails and the newsletters I read from beginning to end.

I keep folders for each of the groups I follow so if something speaks to me or I feel I may want to refer back to it I can file it and quickly access it when I need it.

I try to keep my “in box” down to 25 or less. For me this is one page. I flag messages that I need to pay attention to — either read again, read more thoroughly, or respond to.

Periodically I take time during several days to unsubscribe to things that I just don’t find myself very interested in anymore — things I’m just not gleaning anything valuable from. It’s often a difficult choice, but since we each only have so much time we need to use it wisely. If I find myself missing something I’ve unsubscribed to, I can always go back and subscribe again.

How do you read e-mail? If you have ideas that work for you, please share them in the comment section so we can all benefit.

Gotta go check my e-mail.

Finding Joy in the Journey,

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Phyllis Sather
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© 2009 Phyllis Sather
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