Image Credit: By NicoElNino

Time is important worldwide, however it is viewed differently in various cultures. As you can imagine, when coaching multicultural teams and global leaders, time management is a challenging discussion topic.

Numerous experts, including Edward Hall, have said that there are two main ways of viewing time: flexible and strict. Flexible time is also referred to as Polychronic time; where for example, a face-to-face meeting, virtual conference call, and contract signing may occur simultaneously. Strict time is also referred to as Monochronic time; when events are usually scheduled and tend to occur one thing at a time.

If the organizational culture and time orientation of the global manager tend toward strict timelines, agendas, and tight scheduling, then missed deadlines and unanswered email messages will be problematic. When a global counterpart, client, or customer from a flexible time culture collides with these differences, problems occur. 

To assist our strict time oriented global managers and team leaders who have requested examples, we share this Clean Out Your Inbox Week blog for January 25-29, 2021 with 4 tips for better email organization to reduce unanswered email, unsubscribe from junk, and prioritize the most important correspondence.

From Google Calendar reminders to weekly newsletters from favorite restaurants, to spam disguised as personal email, inboxes can be overrun by unnecessary mail that can bury time-sensitive messages. 

Consider these tips:

  1. Filter Into Folders: Scan email and determine what bulk categories for messages to fall into. Examples include Finance, Client/Customer, Marketing, Operations, Research, Tax, and Personal. Create folders for each category, and make a habit of sorting each email into its proper place. Consider changing the email settings so banking emails, for example, are filtered automatically into Finances. Maintain a list of client email addresses so their messages are consolidated and easily accessible under “Clients.”
  2. Unsubscribe: While deleting dozens of messages feels great, get ahead of the game by reducing next week’s clean-up: utilize the “unsubscribe” button. To stop receiving endless updates from vendors, the junior high alumni association, or restaurants closed due to the pandemic, simply click unsubscribe.
  3. Boomerang: If an important email arrives; but a project prevents an immediate reply, don’t let it languish under an inbox pileup. Boomerang is a useful tool that resends an email when scheduled, and helps prevent procrastination. 
  4. Weekly Clean-Up: While filters, unsubscribing, and mass-deleting can go a long way, a few errant email messages will slip into the inbox. Set aside 30 minutes every week to file, filter, and delete these messages. Making this a weekly habit will save endless headaches when tracking down that quarterly report, confirming a client meeting time, or reporting to the global team.

Next time the phone buzzes or computer chimes “You’ve got mail,” be ready to receive prioritized, organized, and accessible email. Take charge of the inbox and implement these four tips for an efficient email system to manage correspondence like a pro from a strict time oriented culture!

Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a diversity and inclusion consultant, cross-cultural trainer, modern manners and etiquette expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE Centre and the Intercultural Communication Institute, she is an attorney and mediator. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business, Access to Asia, won a coveted Kirkus Star, and was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books. She’s a winner of the British Airways International Trade Award at the Greater Austin Business Awards.

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