Think about it – you and your team spend an inordinate amount of time either preparing, reading or responding to emails. Imagine how much more productive you and your team could be if you could email under control.
Step one, determine what you will do with each email that you receive. That does not mean you respond to each email immediately. There are three main options:
The goal is to never let an email sit in your inbox.
Step two, save time generating emails. Respond to most emails as you would to a text message. This approach saves time, improves productivity and enhances message clarity. Recipients can easily read your message, understand what they need to do and respond accordingly. Note, however, depending on the nature of the content of the incoming message, responding using the same approach as a text may not always be appropriate.
Don’t type the same response multiple times. Create templates for standard responses and use them when the response is appropriate.
Next step, reduce the amount of email that you receive. If you are like most people, 90 percent of your incoming messages are junk mail. Determine the recurring messages that you really need, and then unsubscribe or block all of the others.
If you get bogged down with reply to all threads, use your email application’s mute or ignore function to unsubscribe from future responses.
Consider different email addresses for different types of messages such as personal, online accounts or reward programs. In the same vein, if you use Gmail or Inbox, you can create different aliases by placing a period anywhere in your username or placing a plus sign followed by a word at the end of your username. Aliases enable you to create scenario-specific filters to address insignificant emails. The goal is to only allow messages that actually require your attention from ever entering your inbox.
Step four, reconsider your email organization. Putting documents in a file folder makes sense in the physical world. It’s a system that makes information easier to retrieve when you need it. But in the world of email, it makes no sense to spend copious amounts of time filing correspondences in folders. You can use the search function if you need to retrieve a previously read email.
The final step is to consolodate the time that you dedicate to email management . Avoid automatic signals or sounds each time an email is received. Do not keep your email app open and dedicate specific times of the day for email reading and responding. There’s no bigger productivity kill than switching back and forth between emails and project work. For urgent messages, create a customized notification alert that will notify you of messages that command your immediate attention.