7 Simple Tips to Effective Email Management
Manage Your Emails to Save Time and Energy
Article written by Kat Sarmiento, published at A Writers Business
Despite the prevalence of instant messaging and social media, email remains one of the most popular methods of communication in the professional world. Almost everyone has an email address that they use for business or personal communication.
Email is simple. It’s easy. It’s versatile. But when your inbox is cluttered, navigating it can feel like going through a dense jungle. That is, if you don’t manage your emails properly.
Email organization doesn’t take a lot of time if you do it right. Most email service providers have features that let you keep your inbox neatly arranged and presented, so you don’t get a headache every time you open it.
Whether you’re a business owner, an executive, or a freelancer, these email management tips will help you keep your inbox effectively organized.
Go for inbox zero… kinda
If you’ve been snooping around the Internet looking for effective ways to manage your email inbox, you’ve probably read or come across inbox zero.
For those who haven’t, inbox zero is an extreme approach to email management aimed at keeping the inbox empty, or almost empty, all the time. With so many emails landing on your inbox every day, achieving inbox zero seems tedious, if not impossible. Fortunately, you don’t have to.
The trick is not to go for inbox zero but to get as close as you can get to it. You need to be ruthless regarding which emails to keep. Does it need immediate response or action? Spare it. Otherwise, get rid of it. “But how can I keep track of the things I need to do?” you ask. Well, that’s the neat part.
This approach will compel you to respond to emails promptly. You’ll feel motivated to keep your inbox clean, so you’ll want to respond to them as soon as you can. Not only will you get a well-organized inbox, but you’ll also boost your productivity.
Yes, even going near inbox zero is easier said than done. But it’s great advice because it’s founded on the idea of keeping your inbox decluttered, which is also the foundation of a well-managed inbox. After all, how will you manage your emails if it’s always bursting at the seams?
Make a folder for action-pending emails
You can’t resolve all the emails you receive by yourself; some of them will require the attention of a coworker. For these emails, create a waiting folder separate from your primary inbox.
Once you’ve done your part regarding the email’s concern, send it to the waiting folder, where they won’t clutter your inbox. A bonus advantage is that you can easily track all pending concerns by looking inside the waiting folder. Neat.
Use labels and set filters
Most email service providers allow you to apply a label to your emails, making it easy for you to group them together. Think of labels as folders — they hold together emails of the same type. You can make a label for emails regarding daily reports, minutes of meetings, team outings, automated emails from your bank, and for anything else.
Once you’ve created all the labels you need, it’s time to create filters. Filters let you apply labels to emails automatically based on a set of requirements that they meet.
Do you want all emails from your boss to be labeled “Boss” and be marked as important? Or perhaps you want all emails regarding attendance, leaves, and overtime to be applied with the same label? You can do so using filters.
Get rid of junk mail
Lots of websites ask for your email so you can receive promotions and newsletters, and you probably gave it even though you weren’t sure if you’re interested in receiving them.
Now, your inbox is being inundated by dozens of these emails, and you haven’t read one of them. Don’t kid yourself; you’re never going to read them, and you should delete them now. Follow the three-strike rule. If you’ve deleted a newsletter or promotion three times, it’s time to unsubscribe from them.
Follow the 1-minute rule
The 1-minute rule is an effective way of clearing out plenty of mail. If an email takes less than a minute to reply to, reply to it and then send it to the archive. It takes it out of your inbox and prevents it from hounding you for a reply. If the email takes more than a minute to respond to, deal with it some other time.
Set a time for reading emails
One of the reasons why some people get overwhelmed by emails is because they only open them once — at the end of the day. Allocate several chunks of your time to read emails throughout the day, so you won’t get stressed out dealing with all of them at once. You can set 10, 15, or 20 minutes to read emails every one to two hours, whichever is best for you. Just make sure you don’t let email-checking ruin an otherwise healthy routine.
You’ll always have to reply to your boss, but how about Jim, who sits two desks away from you? Absolutely not. If Jim’s sent an email asking a question he could’ve asked you in person, ignore it. You’re not being rude; you’re just prioritizing yourself and your time. Ignoring Jim’s emails is going to encourage him to be wiser in sending emails.
If you work remotely, the advice remains the same. If a coworker sent an unimportant email or a question they could’ve sent as a message, ignore it and save your inbox from extra junk.
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