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.

@theodorexh235

Time Management

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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).

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.
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. 

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).

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.

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.

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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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.

6

IDEAS

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.

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 folders – particularly "Action" and "Waiting" folders – you could use them as an informal To-Do List for the day.

The advantage of specific folders for processing email is that it makes it easier to search for past mail.

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