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How I’ve Made Email my Secret Weapon

https://medium.com/@aaronklein/how-ive-made-email-my-secret-weapon-14b701b6d133

medium.com

How I’ve Made Email my Secret Weapon
It’s quite fashionable to hate email. Countless articles have been written decrying how awful it is. Billions of dollars have been spent trying to reinvent it. And the latest fad is just to give up —…

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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 messages.

  • Unsubscribe to all the blogs and newsletters you subscribed to or set up a separate email account for it.
  • Be selective on marketing.
  • Kill all non-essential email notifications.
  • Be a ruthless unsubscriber.

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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.

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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.

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Set up Text Macros

Sales pitches are personal emails without unsubscribe links. But if you don't respond, you can often get more email from them.

Set up text replacements. For example:

noint = Not interested but thanks; please remove.

nove - I'm sorry; I have a bunch of initiatives and don't have time for a call right now. Maybe in a few months.

nocant = I'm sorry; I've already made commitments I'd have to break if I tried to make a call or meeting work right now.

These won't work everywhere but are a good starting point that can be edited.

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Managing email: determine the priority

Once you've got the flow of email reduced to messages that matter, it's time to clear the non-urgent out of your inbox.

  • Reply if a very quick reply is possible, like Thanks or Great or On it.
  • Reply with a macro if one of your pre-written replies works.
  • Forward/Delegate emails that others can handle.
  • Process later. The "to process" is the second folder.
  • Archive or delete if no further action is needed.

Once this is done, only the deeply urgent things are left.

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Process your emails

Actions you might take while processing:

  • Unsubscribe or block.
  • Reply where longer or more substantive replies are needed.
  • Forward/delegate things that need more substantive thought and context.
  • Task. Theses emails require action that can't get done in two or three minutes while processing.

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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.

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Organize your inbox

Even though email messaging has provided us with better communication, we have a hard time managing every message that enters our inbox.

Finding better ways to organize your inbox will benefi...

Marking Emails Unread

Trying to locate an email you want to respond to can be very time-consuming.

Mark the email you want to respond to later as "unread." It is easier to find between all your other messages.

Stick to a Routine

Getting out of the habit of checking email frequently can be tough. 

Check and respond to emails twice a day at a specific time. The rest of the day you can be dedicated to your work and not lose focus because of incoming messages.

Hooked To Technology

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  • Most of us check email too often, almost like a compulsive disorder. Just like any habit, there are internal cues, triggers and impulses that make us behave in a certain way with no consciou...

Bury The Triggers That Hijack Your Attention

Put your mind at ease by burying all the triggers that hijack your attention and keep you away from concentrating on your work.

  1. The first thing is to turn off all the external triggers like your phone notifications, chimes, reminders or icons that rob us of our attention. For persistent apps, you can hide the icon in some folder.
  2. Use online tools like vacation responders and email filters.
  3. Use online calendars that let people schedule time for a meeting.