Okay, the first thing is that you have to want more time. In other words, this post will help you if you’re clear that you do want more time available for self care (more sleep is a personal favorite!), a new project, or whatever.
1. Choose the times you’re going to do email. Choose how much time, and how many times a day you will check and answer e-mail. If you answer each message right away, you’re training everyone to expect and IMMEDIATE response each and every time they contact you. If you want to feel that extra stress, go for it. If you want to revalue yourself at a higher level, you decide when and how much time you will dedicate to email. It’s a matter of responding, not reacting.
2. Respond to emails with Plan A and Plan B. Avoid open-ended questions if possible. What you want to express is something like, If you prefer option A then do this, if you prefer option B, then do this other thing. Think it out in advance. Again, your clarity will help others take more effective action without dilly-dallying.
3. Set up a file of common responses. This I learned from my sister. She set up a Word document with her common responses, you know the "Thank you so much for contacting us. I am verifying the issue you asked about and blah blah blah." You can save paragraphs, or entire messages, or just separate sentences. Then you cut and paste.
4. Batch phone calls. The ones you make AND the ones you receive. (Leverage voice mail.) Just because the phone is ringing doesn’t mean you have to answer it. That’s why voice mail was invented. Leave a voice mail that says that you usually answer calls between 2 and 4 each afternoon. Give them an option (phone number) if it really is an emergency. Decide when and how much time you will deal with phone calls. Respond, don’t react.
5. Let people know you have other things to do. If someone does call you and it is during your designated phone time, say something that lets them know you’re swamped. (If they’re on the ball, they will ask if it’s a good time and you will say, "I have 3 minutes right now.") Encourage them to get to the point.
I can promise you when people get through to Donald Trump they get to their point right away. If you think about it, you can devise your own strategy for dealing with work communication in less time. If you look, you will see ways. Your job is probably not to entertain people who are not clear themselves.
What’s your communication tip for freeing up time?