Productivity experts tell us this: checking email at only set times of the day will give you time back and improve your focus. Some advocate a very reasonable twice per day, some say to never check it in the morning, and some push it to the limit of once every 10 days (nuts, IMHO). Whatever the schedule, you just know that if you can just stop constantly monitoring your inbox, you would get so much more done.
Not hovering over your laptop or smartphone all day sounds like fantasyland to any service provider who uses email as their primary communication method. You don’t want to be perceived as unresponsive, but in the effort to appear attentive, you can really wreck your daily workflow (costing you time and money) with endless interruptions responding to seemingly “urgent” messages, that in reality just aren’t.
I personally fell victim to thinking that staying on top of messages on an nearly constant basis will help keep the inbox “under control” and prevent a late-night marathon email triage session (highly undesirable). Plus, what if one of those messages had an attachment that I needed, or a last-minute plan change that I needed to know about for a project Im working on that day? The whole thing sounded impossible, easy to do only for those for whom email is not mission-critical. For me, the whole idea was unworkable.
AwayFind allows you to define what messages are truly important and literally screens your inbox for the criteria you set. When AwayFind detects an email message in your inbox that fits your specific criteria, it finds you and alerts you to the message. Then, you can decide whether to review and respond to the message or not.
This may sound like something you could jerry-rig yourself to some extent with a Gmail filter or Outlook rule… but AwayFind takes it so much further. AwayFind makes it easy to not only define custom criteria (by domain name, specific person, specific subject, specific text strings) – it actually scans your calendar, too – automatically flagging you with an alert when someone who you are scheduled to meet with happens to email you within x-hours of your meeting time. If you use the Gmail/Apps integration, you can create custom alerts on the fly based on subject or sender, etc – and expire them after a time you define.
Here’s a quick video from AwayFind about their Google Apps integration… gives a great overview of how it works:
Awayfind also has a handy and optional “intelligent autoresponder” that gets sent to everyone who emails you (just once per every 60 -180 days) to tell them about how to send you an urgent message. They even give you a personalized message form your contacts to use to send you urgent emails.
AwayFind alerts you in any way you like: IM, Twitter, SMS – you can even get voice calls when a particularly important message arrives. There’s even apps for iPhone and Android (a great way to avoid SMS fees).
There’s a free version available, but the paid plans come with all the goodies to really get the most out of it. The $15 per month fee more than pays for itself in peace of mind and saved time. There’s also a workgroup version available that allows you to re-route messages to specific team members.
Check out AwayFind – they offer a 30 day free trial and a bonus “Guide to NOT Checking Email” ebook, too!