10 Mantras To Manage Your Email And Save Time
Originally published at lmt-lss.com on October 26, 2015.
Get your inbox out of the way.
Emails have occupied center-stage regardless of the job you do. Every morning, our day at work starts with sifting through a pile of email. The higher you go up the corporate ladder, the more email you need to deal with. Plus with the advent of smartphones, we are also carrying our inbox everywhere we go. Basically, there is no running away from email.
We spend a significant amount of our time sorting, reading and replying to email. This isn’t even our main job and takes from us time that can be used doing more productive work like working on a strategy or doing market research. If you are going to be productive with your actual work, the first thing you need to learn to to get your inbox out of the way. Use these 10 tips to manage your email better.
1. Delete First
When you open your inbox every day, you see a lot of messages that may not need any action from you. Emails like auto-alerts can directly go to your trash bin. Clearing unnecessary email without even opening immediately reduces your mail clutter leaving the ones that actually need your attention.
2. Write Short
Be clear and concise with your email. There are some situations that call for complete sentences and adherence to formal language, but in many cases, you don’t even need to form full sentences to get the message across. On these emails use concise, clear, and straightforward language to save time.
3. Reuse Sent Messages
If there are certain messages that you send over and over, such as confirmations or sign-off messages for a repeating task, reuse a sent message from the last email of that kind. Strip out the “Re:” in the subject line, update details if need be, and send. Why do the same task over and over?
4. Turn Off Notifications
Does an alert pop up every time you receive a new incoming message? Only in the rarest cases is this feature helpful. If instant alerts are pertinent to your job (and you’ll know if they are), leave them alone. Everyone else, however: Turn them off permanently. Email alerts are highly distracting.
5. Prioritize 20% Emails; Defer 80% Ones
Use the 80/20 rule because it applies to every single area of our lives. The 80/20 rule is the idea that 20% of inputs are responsible for 80% of the outputs in any situation. Prioritize 20 per cent of your emails based on urgency and impact. The rest can be deferred for a later time.
6. Close Email When You Need To Focus
When an email program is open, it’s tempting to check periodically (or obsessively) for new mail. Closing the program entirely removes the temptation. Close your email application or sign out of webmail when you need to do work that requires real focus for at least 30 minutes.
7. Read It, Answer It
If you have opened an email and read it, you might as well reply. If you decide to reply later, you might forget about some emails altogether since they will get mixed with all the others that you have already replied to. This process will also consume more time, since you will probably need to read each email a second time before remembering what you will need to say in the reply.
8. Use Groups
If you mail the same group of people repeatedly, set up a group or email alias. In Outlook, it’s called a Distribution List. Not only will you save yourself time by not having to type each person’s name when you mail the group, you’ll also set yourself up for easy deleting tactics.
9. Use The 1 Minute Rule When Replying
If it takes within 1 minute to reply, reply to it immediately and archive it. Don’t let it sit in your mail box for ages. It’s going to take even more effort letting it hover around your mind and being constantly reminded that you need to reply. Just make sure you keep to the 1-minute time frame when replying so it does not take more time than needed.
10. Unsubscribe From Things You Don’t Read
In your cruising around the web, you probably sign up for a fair share of newsletters and feeds on impulse which you lose interest in afterward. If you find yourself repeatedly deleting the mail from your subscriptions, it’s a cue that you should just unsubscribe immediately.