Check your email in batches

Batchers, who set aside specific chunks of time to work through their email, are significantly more effective when it comes to getting things done. Research shows that they’re less stressed as well.

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Communication

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Ignore your inbox when you wake up

Responding to emails as soon as you receive a notification gives others the impression that you’re at their beck and call. It also prevents you from reflecting on your own priorities for the day.

  • Do. If the email is actionable and takes under two minutes, then do the task ASAP.
  • Delegate. Forward the right tasks to the right people.
  • Defer. Reply to the message at a better time.
  • Delete emails that are not important or that you can delegate. 
  • File. Add messages that contain information you will need to your archives.

To avoid filling the email box of staff members, only CC the relevant parties. Ask your team to respond to you individually instead of using the reply-to-all button.

Have someone screen your messages. They can separate the important messages from the less important. You can hire a virtual assistant to handle this job.

Another option would be to use tools to sort and declutter your inbox so that only important emails come through. 

Create a new operating model for your organization’s emails. This should include:

  • Knowing when to email vs. communicating in other ways. 
  • Embracing other platforms for collaborating and communicating. Use internal messaging services to connect with your team quickly.
  • Ban “reply all.” 
  • Share email productivity tips that you have found successful. 
  • Have a clear and specific subject line to let the recipient know what the email is about without opening it.
  • Always be a professional. Never write with emotion or overuse exclamation marks.
  • Proofread. Ensure that the message is brief and makes sense to avoid any misunderstandings.
  • Include a call-to-action. With a clear direction, they won't have to respond with a series of follow-up questions.
  • Add a signature with your contact information.

Only respond to yesterday’s emails -- unless they’re urgent. 

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RELATED IDEAS

... to read and respond to email. Don’t leave your email program open all day long. Alerts from incoming messages can interrupt your work flow. Instead, schedule specific blocks of time throughout the day for checking your email. 

You might even try marking your calendar and setting your availability to “busy.” If necessary, turn off your cellphone and shut your office door to prevent interruptions.

5

IDEAS

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.

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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