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Beyond the Inbox: Rules for Reducing Email

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https://www.calnewport.com/blog/2020/04/14/beyond-the-inbox-rules-for-reducing-email/

calnewport.com

Beyond the Inbox: Rules for Reducing Email
April 14th, 2020 · 17 comments In my last post, I warned that a sudden shift to remote work could inadvertently push knowledge workers into a state of inbox capture, in which essentially all of their time outside of Zoom calls ends up dedicated to sending and receiving email (or Slack messages).

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Scheduling Calls

Scheduling Calls

Never schedule a call or meeting using email.

Right now, the usual hallway conversations or impromptu office visits are impossible, so try to use meeting scheduling servic...

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Organizing your Obligations

Immediately move obligations out of your inbox and into role-specific archives.

Moving and prioritizing things into specific compartments or zones helps us organize our tho...

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Working Only In Office Hours

Having fixed working hours (while at home in your pajamas) makes you concentrate better, and be more productive. You need to switch off from work once the office hours are over.

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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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Shockingly Unproductive

  • Studies show that employees spend more than five hours per day reading and replying to emailsWhile it may seem like urgent work, email is not the best kind of work.

Facilitate Deep Work

A few smart strategies that can be deployed:

  1. Installing pods for deep work while having common areas for collaborative work.
  2. Wearing headphones that are easily seen to signal that you are not to be disturbed.
  3. Turning your office into a library, following the same culture of quietness where everyone is hushed and respectful.

Email is not Real Work

Real work, by definition, should be rare, valuable and cognitively demanding.

Email does not check any of these boxes, and is, therefore, a pseudo work.

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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.

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