I used to check email a lot: almost every hour. I thought I was being productive, when in fact I was just procrastinating from doing REAL WORK. It’s fine to check email a few times a day, but when it interferes with your work, it’s not really helping you.
Here are some tips for managing your email:
Tip no. 1: Don’t open the moment they arrive
Let’s face it. We all have that curious urge to click on a new email the moment it appears in our inbox list. Well, you definitely need to control that itch if you don’t want to to end up using too much time opening every email that arrive. One of the simplest tricks here is to turn off the notifications coming from your email provider. Remember that even if you are not notified, that new email still stays on your inbox, marked as unread, for you to read at a more appropriate time.
You also actively restrict yourself from caving in to the urge to check your inbox for new mail every 30 minutes or so. Here, it would be a good idea to make a list of the emails that you are expecting to arrive and jot down the time you expect them to show up. This way, you open only those emails that you know you have to read immediately. All the others can then go to your “read for later” list.
Tip no. 2: Create your routine
Of course, reading an email is just half of the work that has to be done. You still have to respond to all those mail that needs to be replied to. And this is where it starts to get really complicated, as you try to read and reply to several mails all at once.
To get yourself out of this mess, you need to come up with a routine that will help in sorting out and dealing with all the mail that arrives. For instance, use 30 minutes at the start of your work day to read through all of the mail that came into your inbox the day before. You can then allot your break time or another particular down time to respond to all the emails that need immediate replies. You should never answer emails during your most productive time of the day, as it will only make you waste precious time.
Tip no. 3: Categorize your mail and automate the process
Knowing which mail you need to spend time on and which ones can wait for later right from the start is going to cut down your email processing time significantly. Luckily, all email client software have a host of such features that you can use for this particular task.
One such indispensable feature is the ability to create folders to sort out mail received from specific sources. This is particularly useful if you expect to receive large volumes of mail from specific people, such as clients or co-workers. Instead of the jumbled mess in your inbox, you get to see only the folders and check out which ones have new content.
Regularly cleaning your mail lists will ensure that these won’t end up cluttered in the long run. In case you have senders that you don’t expect to receive any message from any time soon, you can remove the dedicated folder for them. You might also want to unsubscribe to newsletters that you don’t regularly read, to free your folders list.
Tip no. 4: Make effective use of mobile
A few years back, all mail processing was done solely in front of computers. Nowadays, even the simplest smartphone has at least some basic email capabilities. But the downside to having email right on your phone is that you have access to it 24/7. Don’t get addicted to checking your email!
One of the best things about using mobile is that you can do it anytime and anywhere, giving you more time whenever you work in front of your computer. You can delegate particular email management tasks here, such as deleting messages that you don’t need anymore and sending out quick replies. You can also use your mobile device to read through the mail that have arrived in the morning, instead of doing that at the start of your work session.
Tip no. 5: Receive less by sending less
This might seem an odd advice, but reducing the amount of email that you send out will also greatly reduce the number you receive. Here, the trick is to remove all conversations that can be handled by other means aside from your email. For instance, employee communications within the same department can be done on a more physical means, instead of running a continuous thread through email. The tr5aditional cork board on the wall is still a good means to do that.
You also particularly should take conversations on a delicate matter off your email threads. Instead, it would be best for you to talk to the person on a face to face basis. Not only will you free your inbox of too many replies, you can also better handle the situation since you are right in front of each other.
These are just some of the tips ways to improve your email management. There are still more strategies that you can learn along the way, and these will help improve it further.