Smart Ways to Manage Email

Be mindful of how you use your devices

Where and how you check your email may be adding to that overflowing inbox. That was the case for me. Email would pile up and I’d sometimes respond twice in an attempt to balance immediacy with thoroughness. Any of this sound familiar?

  • I read an email on my phone but didn’t want to type a long reply on the phone and would save it for later.
  • I skip emails on my computer thinking I would read them on my phone while in transit.
  • I check email at my computer but then get distracted by texts or notifications on my phone.
The variety of devices makes it easier to keep up with email, but only if our own personal system is simple.

Know Thyself

Know what your device behavior and preferences. For example, you may like to read emails on your phone but prefer to respond to them while on your laptop or tablet. Or, you may like to respond to emails on your phone or tablet so that you can use dictation, but read emails on a bigger screen. Just like the endless menu at Cheesecake Factory, there are no wrong choices, it’s all about taste.

Set Up a Personal System

Set up a system (time + organization + device) for how you go through your email. Remember, the goal is a zero inbox at the end of the day, if not more frequently.

Time — Designate time to respond to emails (on whatever device you’re quickest on, without making mistakes). Don’t get distracted by other devices at that time, just focus on replying. Do the same with emails that provide information and which you need or want to read thoroughly.

Organization — Set up folders/labels connected to the actions you’ve designated time for. Mine are: Read, Reply, Take Action (e.g. book a ticket, schedule coffee, place an order, etc.)

Device — Based on the above, make sure you’re using your devices to help, not hinder, your process. Be mindful of what you do on each device. For example, if you prefer to read emails on your phone, save newsletters or other informational emails for your “phone time,” and don’t even bother opening emails that require response, simply move those to your “reply” folder.

Mindfulness may seem like an odd concept to associate with email management, but if you think about it, email management is time management and time management is connected to wellness.

Be mindful. Be well. And make your devices work for you.

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