It can be a major source of frustration trying to keep up with all of the business-related information, newsletters, updates, offers and so on that land in your email box. And although there may be no perfect way to ensure that you can read everything you want to and need to in order to stay current, while at the same time preserving enough time to do the work you need to do to keep your business functioning., I have found a method that cuts down on the worst of the time wasters and streamlines the remaining reading.
1. Weed it out – Anytime I find that I am not getting full value for my time from a newsletter, ezine or other informational email source, even though I may be getting some good stuff, out it goes. Chances are that I am either getting or can get the same info through another, more ROI-positive source.
2. Save it for a specific time – I used to waste hours a day stopping to read business-related newsletters and ezines as they came in or as I ran across them. Now, I put aside one day to read it all. This day is set aside solely for reading informational business mail (not client mail) and for a few other business activities that need focused attention. I don’t schedule other business on this day, unless it is unavoidable. This way, I can get caught up and handle all necessary responses without feeling like I’m neglecting my “real” work.
3. Scan, cram and scram – This is the biggie for saving time. Learn to read for overall content and not for word-by-word absorption. This isn’t deathless prose, folks, so there’s no need to suck it in like some unearthed lost volume of Hemingway. Scan any headings or sub-titles, ignoring completely what you don’t need to know, and then scan-read the content of what you do need quickly to get the gist of the message. Only spend time on intense focused reading if the concept/content is difficult (yet vital) or supremely interesting and important. (If it’s just interesting, but not important, you can always read it some other time when you have a few minutes free.) Once you’ve gotten what you need, save only the emails that you absolutely need for reference in an email folder and delete all the rest.
A secondary aspect of this step is to copy, paste and save content that you know you will need eventually, just not right now, instead of giving it immediate attention. Such information includes things like a link/resource list for later reference or a great idea that you know you’ll need next month when you begin that new marketing campaign – or just general interest stuff that doesn’t need immediate action but would be helpful, useful or just plain enjoyable to read at some point. Paste this copy into a Word document (don’t forget to leave the attribution and copyright info in case you ever need to cite the work for any reason, or want to see more stuff by the same author) and put it into the appropriate folder on your hard drive. I have several folders in my business files for things such as marketing, client-related info, industry-related info, and so on. Every so often, on a slow day or when I have to wait around in the office for some reason, I go through them to read what’s there and weed out what I no longer need.
Using this 3-step process, I find that I can whip through the average newsletter/ezine in about 5-10 minutes or less, depending on the amount of content and that content’s importance/interest to me. Since I am able to keep my ezine load down to a manageable number and my list is constantly tweaked for the greatest value-to-time ratio, I get well-read in a reasonable period of time without feeling like I am eating up valuable work time that should have been spent doing other activities.