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9 Powerful Email Productivity Practices to Adopt Right Now

https://www.dansilvestre.com/email-productivity/

dansilvestre.com

9 Powerful Email Productivity Practices to Adopt Right Now
In our day and age, mastering email productivity is a key skill for the knowledge worker. These are the 9 "Email Best Practices" you must adopt to level up your email productivity. Process communications faster and focus on work and projects outside your inbox.

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Adopt GTD Methodology in Email

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.

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Create an Email Productivity System

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).

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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.

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Receive Fewer Emails

Receive Fewer Emails
  • Unsubscribe: from anything you don’t need, such as newsletters, groups, mailing lists, and notifications. 
  • Send fewer emails: to get less email, send less. 
  • Be succinct: Reply to every email in three sentences or less
  • Respond with statements: don’t reply “Maybe 10 or 11 am, what do you think?” to schedule a meeting time, be assertive “10 am.”
  • Get Personal: sometimes it’s easier to call or talk face-to-face. 

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Understand the Different Types of Emails

All your emails fit into one of the following 6 categories:

  • Respond today: reply immediately if urgent, at the end of the workday if important
  • Respond later: schedule time in the calendar in the future to reply
  • Optional response: no need to respond, but it would be nice of you to
  • Not important and no need to reply: archive or delete
  • Read later: file into a specific folder and read in your spare time (e.g. newsletters and reports)
  • Filling: file into a specific folder (e.g. purchase receipts, copies of important documents, travel arrangements).

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Practice Good Email Etiquette

Practice Good Email Etiquette
  • Keep it short.
  • Make it scannable: use short paragraphs and formatting to make sure your content is read.
  • Know what you want to communicate.
  • Bold the important.
  • Keep conversations small: only include the people who need to be a part of the discussion
  • Forwarding code of conduct: never forward along a massive email chain without a few bullet points as a quick summary at the top explaining why you’re sending it and action items you need from the other person.

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Schedule Email Time

Treat checking emails as you would any other tasks: a to-do. Schedule specific times in your calendar to process email. And reduce the times you check email to 2 per day: one in the late morning and another in the late evening.

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Use Automatic Responses

Train other people to respect your productivity, work, and time by using an automatic response. Long-term sustainable email productivity is about selective ignorance.

Let people know you’re checking emails less often in order to be more productive.

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Inbox Zero in 10 Minutes

Inbox Zero in 10 Minutes
  1. Create a folder in your email inbox named “sort”.
  2. Pick a topic that describes several of your unread messages.
  3. Move all messages related to that topic into the sort folder.
  4. Go into the folder and process the messages until the folder is empty.
  5. Return to your inbox and loop back to Step 2 with another topic. Repeat until the inbox is empty.

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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.

3 more ideas

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.

Zen to Done (ZTD)

It's a productivity system that teaches how to take a simple approach to improving your productivity, by encouraging you to focus on forming one productivity-boosting habit at a time. 

The Minimalist Habits of Zen to Done

  • Collect: Get ideas and to-dos out of your brain and onto a list.
  • Process: Review your list daily and decide how to act on each item.
  • Plan: Pick a few high priority items to accomplish each week and every day.
  • Do: Schedule time to accomplish your selected to-dos without interruptions.

The Collect Habit

To clear your mind and improve focus, get your ideas and to-dos out of your mind and onto a list. 

Documenting to-dos in the moment lessens the likelihood that you'll forget to do something and gives you a master list of to-dos to reference when you're trying to decide where to direct your time.