Secrets to Success

Deborah Cole Micek
and John-Paul Micek


Organizing e-mail

Investing time in sorting e-mail will
free your mind in the long run

Part Three of a Four-Part Series

Have you introduced a new policy in the way you check e-mail every day? Here are some more tips to tame the biggest time-waster of all!

Tip No. 5 from last week highlighted the importance of organizing your incoming mail.

If you use Microsoft Outlook, you can easily do this with a few clicks. (If you use another software program, you'll have to do a little research to see how this process will work for you.) But I promise that if you invest a little time in the organization of your day, and start with e-mail, you'll gain more free time to focus on what matters most.

I organize my mail accordingly:

1) All of my coaching clients go into folder No. 1, allowing me to focus on those who have hired me to partner with them in their success.

This supports the fundamental business principle that if you take extreme care of your existing clients, you'll not only keep them, but they'll refer you to others. (Talk about a time-saver!) An enormous amount of time is wasted marketing to find new clients with no results. But if you refocus your attention to a more referral-based business structure, you'll be investing your time in a more efficient manner.

2) My partner's e-mail goes into folder two. Often, he is asking questions that need to be acted on immediately. At other times he's following up on e-mails I have sent him or actions that need to be taken in the future.

3) I have a low-priority "read later" folder. Newsletters that I subscribe to go in this folder, allowing me to get caught up with cutting-edge trends on my own time -- allotted time that I scheduled into my calendar specifically to focus on reading.

How can you use a similar system to accommodate your needs and ensure that you are responding to your existing clients first and new prospects next?

I get dozens of e-mails from one person (mainly my partner or clients) in one day. I organize them in one folder and read them at set intervals in the day. It's a more organized way to program your brain so it can focus all of its energy toward one project or one person's business at a time -- even if you have multiple projects going on simultaneously.

If you allow yourself to read your e-mail as it comes in, you're subjecting yourself to think on many different levels, from high to low priority. Think about it: If every other piece of e-mail that you get is junk mail, your brain will start to see the e-mail process as a low return of investment in time.

Since your brain is designed to make you successful, it will begin to work more casually when you're reading e-mail or doing low-priority tasks, and you'll become less effective. Similarly, your brain will be more focused when you're doing something that is in your schedule as an appointment.

This is why I schedule the time I focus on e-mail during set times of the day. When my reminder alarm goes off, I finish the project I'm working on and check e-mail for that set time frame. Then, I'm on to my next high-priority project or coaching client.

Coaching corner

If you gained just one additional hour each day by better handling your e-mail, what would you do with it? Spend it with your family? Your newborn? Go out to dinner with your spouse? Or make that one extra sales call that could put you over the top in profits?

Think of it this way: If you spent an extra hour each day to bring in additional revenue, you could hire an assistant with that extra cash to alleviate you from all the other tasks sapping your time.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

John-Paul Micek is the lead business coach at RPM Success Group Inc. Reach him at or toll-free at (888) 334-8151.

Deborah Cole Micek, chief executive officer of RPM Success Group, is a business success coach and life strategist. Reach her at or toll-free at (888) 334-8151.

Access an expanded version of this article at


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