MPW Insider is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for: How do you manage email overload? is written by Ivanka Trump, executive vice president of development and acquisitions at the Trump Organization.
Technology affords us the ability to be connected 24/7, which is a tremendous asset when running a global enterprise—that said, it can also become a major source of inefficiency, if not kept properly in check. As with many things in life, you have to manage your inbox, or it will manage you. Over time, I’ve picked up some incredibly helpful email techniques that have greatly improved my productivity:
Take lengthy conversations offline
I will periodically search my inbox for the most frequent emailers. In particular, I identify those people who send long, meaty emails that really are better discussed through conversation rather than electronically. I find that a handful of ‘offenders’ make up the lion’s share of my email overload. I will then speak to those people and set up a weekly meeting instead to discuss ongoing questions or issues that they need me to address. If something is urgent, they can of course email me. If not, they know they have a scheduled time to check in with me and get feedback.
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I cut down on the number of emails that ever make it into my inbox by regularly removing myself from unnecessary lists and databases.
Keep things short and sweet
I tend to be straightforward and direct—if something requires a long explanation, I would rather do it in person or over the phone.
Organize the week topically
To minimize the shifting back and forth between my roles as executive vice president of development and acquisitions for the Trump Organization and the founder of my fashion brand, I assign each day of the week a priority. On Mondays, I focus on design and development work related to the many Trump projects we have under construction; Tuesdays are for my apparel and accessories brand and IvankaTrump.com; Wednesdays are to look at new acquisitions and construction site visits for projects under development, etc. Obviously, I handle time-sensitive matters as they arise, but in general, I try to concentrate my energies on a specific topic each day.
As much as possible, clear out the inbox
I regularly fail in my quest of achieving “inbox zero,” but I never go to bed with more than 10-20 unanswered emails.