Want to be More Productive? Get off Your Phone and Stop Checking Your Email!

stop checking email

One of the things I’ve noticed (and one of the reasons I was compelled to start blogging about legal marketing again) was the sheer volume of people that have opted into my email list in the past several years since I last posted on Legal Marketing Made Easy.

So yesterday, I decided to send out a blast email to let people know that I planned to start re-engaging through email.

(Not on my email list? Click here to subscribe to updates and weekly marketing tips).

The results, thus far, have been amazing.

First off, 37% of you have opened the initial email I sent. By any measure, that is a fantastic “open rate”. Of the people that opened the email, 86% of you indicated that you would like to continue receiving information from me. Again, this is a strong indicator that you find value in my information and would like to receive more of it.

That’s the good news.

Here’s the bad news.

As much as I love you and love your support – you need to stop checking your email!

If you are looking for ways to become more productive and “take back your day”, checking email is one of the single biggest time sucks there are.

How I’m Working to tame the Email Dragon

As I write this post, it is 6:09 am. I’m been up since about 4:45 am and am writing this from a Starbucks (we were out of coffee at home, what are you going to do?)

I haven’t checked email since I left the office yesterday, around 5:45 pm. And I don’t plan to check email again until 11:00 am this morning.

But this isn’t easy. I find myself soooo tempted to check it. You don’t even know (or maybe you do).

My phone is sitting here on the table next to me, screen down, just waiting for me to check it.

But I won’t. And here’s why.

If I check my email messages, I will find a message that will distract me. It will make me mad. It will take away my focus. It will keep me from writing this blog post.

It will keep me from doing the work I need to do to build a multi-million dollar law firm.

How do I know this?

Because I’m pretty confident that the most successful businessmen and women out there, the Mark Cuban’s, the Jeff Bezos’s, the Richard Branson’s… they aren’t getting up at 4:30 am just to check their email.

Someone else does that for them.

Mel Robbins, a lawyer herself and author of “The 5 Second Rule”, wrote this explanation about why she doesn’t check email first thing in the morning:

“I know that the second I do, I will lose my focus. The moment you check email, read the news or surf social media, someone else’s priorities jump in front of yours. Do you think that Bill Gates and Oprah are lying in bed scrolling through social feeds? Nope, and neither should you. You must put yourself first, so do not check email until you plan YOUR day.”

And by the way, if you haven’t yet read “The 5 Second Rule”, you need to jump on that immediately. It’s a fantastic book. (affiliate link)

5 Tools to Stay More Productive With Your Email

Now, I’m not saying not to EVER check email, I’m just saying not to check it first thing in the morning and repeatedly throughout the day.

Personally, (and this is a work in progress, I’m not perfect by any means), I strive to check email twice a day. First I check it at 11 am, and then I check it again at 4 pm.

This one strategy alone will make you more productive. But if that’s not enough, and you want some extra tools to help you slay the email dragon, here are a couple that I use:

1. Inbox When Ready Plugin for Gmail

My first tool is a plugin for Google Chrome called “Inbox When Ready”. This is the plugin that turns off my inbox until 11 am. So even if I wanted to check my email, I’m locked out until 11. There are workarounds (it only works on your desktop, not a mobile device, or I could just login to Apple Mail which we use to file emails for our case management program), but every time I try to check email in gmail before 11 am my inbox is locked as a nice reminder that I should be doing something else.

Here’s a link to that plugin – I highly recommend it.

2. Sanebox

My second tool to keep me more productive is another plugin called “Sanebox”. What Sanebox does is look through your email account, figure out what messages are important to you and which aren’t, and then it places filters on what actually makes it into your inbox. I love this program because it makes it REALLY hard for people I don’t know to get into my inbox.

I can already hear the naysayers – but what about those potential clients or referral sources that need to reach you but can’t?

I would be lying if I didn’t say that this happens. However, any contact form submissions that come through my website are programmed to come into my inbox. And about once a week I can check the “sanelater” filter to see if there is anything urgent I missed. More often than not, I haven’t missed a thing and the time that this program has saved me is more than worth any potential inconvenience to a prospective client or referral source.

3. Boomerang

This is probably my single favorite plugin for Gmail and is a great way to clean out your inbox fast.

Boomerang does two things that I really like. First, if you received a message that you aren’t prepared to take action on, you can “boomerang” the message to send it out of your inbox, only to return at a date and time that you prefer so that you can take action on it. You can set the message to return in a couple hours, a couple days, or even in several weeks or months.

The second thing I love about Boomerang is that you can schedule messages to be sent out at a certain time in the future. Have you ever been in a situation where you send an email, only to get a response back in 2 minutes? You want to clean out your inbox, but you have found yourself in a quasi “conversation” through email?

With Boomerang you can end all that. I will frequently send messages to clients and then tell Boomerang to send the message later that day or even in the evening hours. That way I don’t need to worry about getting a quick email back that just sucks up my time as I’m trying to batch process my email.

4. Hire a Legal Assistant to respond to emails for you

Now that I have a full-time legal assistant, I can’t tell you how many times I just forward emails to her and tell her to handle whatever problem or question the email references. I’ve done this for everything from setting up meetings and phone conferences, to getting additional information from clients, to finalizing legal documents after a client has approved them.

5. Batch Process Your Email Twice a Day

When you receive an email, what do you typically do?

Do you open it, read it, then decide you will take action on it later on?

You realize how completely inefficient this is, don’t you?

So just stop it. Here’s a video that explains what I mean…

Here’s what you should do instead. Whenever you get an email, you should open it, read it, and make a decision. You will either

  1. Delete/archive the message if it needs no further action on your part,
  2. Delegate the email to your legal assistant,
  3. Make a task for what you need to do with that email and then archive it (or Boomerang it), or finally,
  4. You could do whatever the email requires (typically if it will take less than two minutes, you should just do it) and then archive the message.

So Delete, Delegate, Delay or Do. Pretty easy, right?

What to Do Next?

Hopefully, you have found these tips and strategies helpful as you start to decrease the amount of time you spend on email and become more productive. Before you can do anything else to build and grow your law practice, you must start by taking back your days.

Have any questions or comments? Head over to our Facebook Group, request access and let me know what you think.

Have a great day!

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