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Managing Email EffectivelyStrategies for Taming Your Inbox

https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/managing-email.htm

mindtools.com

Managing Email EffectivelyStrategies for Taming Your Inbox
Strategies for Taming Your Inbox It's Monday morning. As Linda sits down at her desk she experiences that familiar sinking sensation in her stomach... She's not dreading the day ahead of her - she's dreading her email inbox! Linda's in charge of a large team, and she receives at least 50 emails every day.

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Checking Email

Check email only at set points during the day. 
  • you may decide that you'll only check your email before lunch, and at the end of the day.
  • you can also reserve time to re...

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Checking your email regularly...

... during the day can be an effective way to keep your inbox at manageable levels.

However, the constant interruption and distraction that comes from it can dramatically lower yo...

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Reading Email

  • Try using the "Two-Minute Rule" when you read your mail: if the email will take less than two minutes to read and reply to, then take care of it right now, even if it's not a high prior...

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FYI emails

These are internal notifications, emails from the corporate office or from team members who want to keep us "in the loop." 

If you see your name in the "cc" field instead of the "To" ...

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Organizing Email

Set up a simple filing system to help manage your mail: You could use broad categories titled "Action Items," "Waiting," "Reference," and "Archives." If you're able to stay on top of your fo...

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Using Rules

Most email programs, such as Outlook and Gmail, allow you to establish "Rules" that sort email into a particular folder as soon as it comes in.

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Non-Essential Email

If you regularly receive email such as newsletters, blogs and article feeds, you could re-route these to another email address, or use rules, so that they're instantly delivered to a parti...

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Good Team Habits

One of the best things that you can do, to limit the amount of email you need to process, is to encourage people to send you less.

If certain team members regularly send you long, drawn-out e...

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Email and productivity

Email is an extremely useful communication tool.  But when used inappropriately, email can hinder productivity.

More than one-quarter of a worker's day on average is spent answering and reading emails - email is the second-most time-consuming activity for workers, next to "role-specific tasks."

Set aside time

... to read and respond to email. Don’t leave your email program open all day long. Alerts from incoming messages can interrupt your work flow. Instead, schedule specific blocks of time throughout the day for checking your email. 

You might even try marking your calendar and setting your availability to “busy.” If necessary, turn off your cellphone and shut your office door to prevent interruptions.

Take action immediately

  • browse the inbox for emails that can be immediately deleted (spam or promotional emails). Then select messages that don’t require a response and delete or archive them. 
  • Don’t let important emails sit in your inbox for days. Unless you’re on vacation, respond within 48 hours. Reply to the sender as soon as you’ve read his or her message.
  • If you’re unable to respond immediately, communicate to the sender that you received the message and will be in touch shortly. Set a deadline and follow up.

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Adopt GTD Methodology in Email

think of every email you get as either something you need to take action on, track, or refer to later. 

Every time you open a conversation, decide right away what to do with it. Don’t postpone and come back to it. You touch it once and move on.

Create an Email Productivity System

There’s no “definitive” system. The best framework is the one that works for you. Ideally, it should model your work style, supporting the way you work. Bonus points if it’s low-maintenance, fast to set up, and adaptable as your work changes.

Some people like to use folders with specific actions (do, delegate, reply), while others prefer the deadline-driven approach (today, tomorrow, next week).

Power Up Your Email with Plugins

Some examples:

  • Undo Send: for when you accidentally press the send button.
  • Canned Responses: create a template that you can reuse with canned responses.
  • Send and Archive: Automatically archive an email after replying to it using the send and archive button.

Determine What The Sender Needs From You Asap

Ask yourself:

  • What’s the meaning and the value of the message?
  • What action does this message require of me?

Suggested Email Structure

  • Greeting
  • Pleasantry
  • How you got their details, call back and reason for email
  • Body Topic: Situation, Benefit, Call to Action
  • Closing line
  • Signature

Habits For Efficient Email Processing

  • Do – If it’s actionable, execute the task and archive.
  • Delegate – Forward it on.
  • Defer – Decide to do it later (snooze it until a concrete time).
  • Delete – If possible, do it to reduce your inbox.
  • File – If necessary, tag it and set a reminder for later to process items in that tag.