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Managing Email EffectivelyStrategies for Taming Your Inbox

FYI emails

These are internal notifications, emails from the corporate office or from team members who want to keep us "in the loop." 

If you see your name in the "cc" field instead of the "To" field, chances are it's an FYI email. Consider filing it in a "To Read" folder, and tackle it when you have time.

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Managing Email EffectivelyStrategies for Taming Your Inbox

Managing Email EffectivelyStrategies for Taming Your Inbox

https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/managing-email.htm

mindtools.com

8

Key Ideas

Checking Email

Check email only at set points during the day. 
  • you may decide that you'll only check your email before lunch, and at the end of the day.
  • you can also reserve time to read and respond to email after a long period of focused work, or at the time of day when your energy and creativity are at their lowest.

Also, explain to your colleagues/boss/clients that you only check email at certain times, and that they can call you or use instant messaging if the matter is really urgent.

Checking your email regularly...

... during the day can be an effective way to keep your inbox at manageable levels.

However, the constant interruption and distraction that comes from it can dramatically lower your productivity, and disrupt your ability to enter a state of flow when working on high value projects.

Reading Email

  • Try using the "Two-Minute Rule" when you read your mail: if the email will take less than two minutes to read and reply to, then take care of it right now, even if it's not a high priority.
  • For emails that will take longer than two minutes to read or respond to, schedule time on your calendar, or add this as an action on your To-Do List , to do later. 

FYI emails

These are internal notifications, emails from the corporate office or from team members who want to keep us "in the loop." 

If you see your name in the "cc" field instead of the "To" field, chances are it's an FYI email. Consider filing it in a "To Read" folder, and tackle it when you have time.

Organizing Email

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.

Using Rules

Most email programs, such as Outlook and Gmail, allow you to establish "Rules" that sort email into a particular folder as soon as it comes in.

Non-Essential Email

If you regularly receive email such as newsletters, blogs and article feeds, you could re-route these to another email address, or use rules, so that they're instantly delivered to a particular folder.

This will help keep your primary inbox clear, and they'll be in one place, ready to read at a convenient time.

Good Team Habits

One of the best things that you can do, to limit the amount of email you need to process, is to encourage people to send you less.

If certain team members regularly send you long, drawn-out emails, let them know. Tell them gently but firmly that because of the demand on your time, you'd appreciate emails no longer than a paragraph or two. Anything longer than that should warrant a phone call. Alternatively, they could drop by your office for a discussion.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

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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Email and productivity

Email is an extremely useful communication tool.  But when used inappropriately, email can hinder productivity.

More than one-quarter of a worker's day on average is spent answ...

Set aside time

... 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.

Take action immediately

  • browse the inbox for emails that can be immediately deleted (spam or promotional emails). Then select messages that don’t require a response and delete or archive them. 
  • Don’t let important emails sit in your inbox for days. Unless you’re on vacation, respond within 48 hours. Reply to the sender as soon as you’ve read his or her message.
  • If you’re unable to respond immediately, communicate to the sender that you received the message and will be in touch shortly. Set a deadline and follow up.

2 more ideas

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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