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How to manage email

https://qz.com/work/1095656/the-easy-way-to-manage-email-a-guide-from-quartz-at-work/

qz.com

How to manage email
"It's complicated" might be the best way to summarize our relationship with email. We acknowledge it would be difficult to manage life without it, yet we resent that compulsive need to check it-a full 74 times per day on average.

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The psychology behind email

  • Realize that email triggers intermittent variable rewards. Our brains love pulling a lever (i.e. refreshing email) and knowing that the reward (i.e. the number of messages) will vary
  • There’s our basic human desire to return a received positive action with one of our own. 
  • Newton’s Third Law of Motion: “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Said differently, the more you send, the more you receive.

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When you do hit send, be precise

E-mail is not a substitute for conversations.

Avoid asking open-ended questions and save yourself from the “boomerang effect” (that’s when you invite more email into your inbox than you intended, as a result of having sent out an email in the first place). Be concise in your message and specify the TL;DR and/or requested action upfront.

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Find the right downstream systems

The blockage is not email itself, but where all these messages should ultimately go, which requires setting up the right downstream systems.

As you process each message, give yourself five (and only five) options: responding directly or sending the item into whatever system you’re using to manage one of these four buckets.

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Email and human connection

Email and human connection

Behind every email, there are human beings. We can lose sight of this by abusing recipients’ time, keeping unreasonable expectations, cutting out contentless responses (“thanks!”), giving the gift of two acronyms, NNTR and EOM (“No need to respond” and “End of message”) and remembering that if we disconnect for a bit, life will go on.

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

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.

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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. D...

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.

Creating a controllable inbox

Creating a controllable inbox

Many people decry how awful email is. They feel that messages keep on appearing in their inbox as if they have no control over them.
The first step to a controllable inbox is to slow down the me...

Don't feel obligated to respond to everything

Emails from unknown people are like strangers who show up at your office without an appointment. If you pay attention to them, you have to break your commitment to others.

Consider keeping your email notifications off. You will not forget about your inbox.

Making email work in your favor: upgrade your tools

  • Use an email service with a great search tool so you can find archived messages with ease.
  • Delete all those folders. If you use an email service with a great search function, you don't need many folders. Instead, create one big archive and use the search function.
  • Get a to-do app. Many people use email as a to-do list, but then have to re-read the emails and reinterpret what they need to do.