Managing your email has become an important part of modern knowledge work. As common as it is for everyone to have email, most people still do not know how to properly manage their inboxes. People often complain that email is one of their largest sources of distractions. You must not let your email run over your life. Remember, it’s a tool to help you do your work and not the work itself.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed and like you’ll never get back to a clean inbox, here are tips to help you manage the ever-growing mountain of email:
Process your email once a day
Set aside a daily time slot to process your emails, either at the beginning of the day or in the evenings. If you don’t finish in the time slot, continue the next day. Prioritize the more important ones and let go of the rest. Practicing this habit, raises your productivity tremendously. If you are in a working-level position where you get a lot of time-sensitive emails, you can still put this into practice.
Have a “reply by xx day” folder
File the mail that need your reply in a “Reply by XX Day” folder, where XX is the day of the week. You can set aside 3 days every week to reply to emails This way you’re not pressured to reply immediately you get the mail. Read the mail, mentally acknowledge it, and think over it until it’s time to reply. You can make reply day an average of 3-8 days from receipt of the mail.
Realize you don’t need to reply every mail
Despite what you think, you don’t need to reply to every mail. When you get a high volume of mails, and you reply each one of them, you’ll realize that by the end of the day, you’re drained out and unable to do any real work. Don’t stress too much about replying to every single mail. Reply if it helps, but if the costs of replying don’t outweigh the benefits, then maybe it’s not worth worrying about. Just let it be and things will sort themselves out through time.
Read only relevant emails
You don’t need to read every single mail that comes in. Pick and select what’s relevant to you. You probably subscribe to newsletters on different websites, and you have been get emails from blogs and article feeds. You could re-route these to another email address, or set it in a way 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.
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. Or you receive newsletters that you didn’t sign up for in your inbox every single day. If you find yourself repeatedly deleting the mail from your subscriptions, it’s a cue that you should just unsubscribe immediately. This will help to free up your inbox and save more of your time.
How do you manage our email inbox to improve productivity?