This used to happen to me too. When I worked at a nonprofit, I spent all day answering emails. Days would go by where I got nothing done except for clearing my inbox.
When I started Generosity Auctions, I quickly discovered I was spending 90% of my day on the phone. This meant that I could only address emails first thing in the morning or at the end of the day while I’m on the couch watching TV. This accidental email model has worked so well for me that I started recommending it to clients and they have also reported a sense of freedom after being untethered from their email accounts.
Here’s what I’d like to suggest:
Carve out two blocks of time during your work day for answering emails; an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening.
The hour in the morning is before you even get to work, I’m talking while you are getting ready or on the train. Scan your email and respond to only the most important emails. Everything else waits until the end of the day. This way when you get into work you can focus on the projects and tasks that move your nonprofit forward.
At the end of the day, your second hour is used to respond to all other emails. You’ll be able to weed out the emails that got resolved during the course of your day, and hopefully tackle the others during that hour.
Any emails that aren’t addressed by the end of your evening email hour get saved for the following day.
Try it for two weeks and let me know what you think.
Caveat: If you are a small nonprofit with two employees or less this model probably will not work for you. You simply do not have the manpower to let the issues resolve themselves over the course of the day. However, I would still set limits for your email time so that you can accomplish your bigger goals such as prospecting donors and writing grants.