Sometimes I wish we all just agreed to an email cease fire! Sure, it’s meant to make things easier, but email often seems to like more of a hinderance than a help to productivity. In fact, a 2012 study found that on average, more than one-quarter of a worker’s day is spent answering and responding to emails.
To help wrangle back control, I’ve rounded up some of my favourite email inbox management tips that will help you tame the beast and get more done.
5 Email Inbox Management Tips
Be disciplined about when you respond to emails. Resist the urge to leave your inbox open all day long as the arrival of a new email will simply distract and interrupt the flow of your work. Instead, schedule specific blocks of time throughout the day for checking your email. This might be 10 minutes every hour or twice a day for a longer period of time.
Get your inbox organised. While the majority of emails can be deleted once you have responded or actioned them, get your inbox organised with labels, folders and categories. The better your filing system, the easier it so find specific emails when you need them.
Keep your emails short and sweet. Inboxes often overflow because we spend too long crafting our responses. “Proper email is a balance between politeness and succinctness,” says Guy Kawasaki, author of APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur. “Less than five sentences is often abrupt and rude, more than five sentences wastes time,” he says.
Respond. Delete. Delegate. File. Once you open and read an email, avoid double handling it by taking action immediately. Respond, delete, delegate or file it away so you’re not delaying until tomorrow what can be done right away.
Stop using your inbox as a to-do list. Do you leave emails languishing in your inbox so you’ll remember what needs to be done next? I’m guilty of this. Big time. But managing tasks and using your email are two very different things. An effective to do list should be concise, priortized and include deadlines. Three things that an inbox isn’t. Instead, use a handy system like Remember the Milk, Wunderlist or Things to manage your tasks.
What email inbox management tips work for you?
Painting by Anna Valdez