Do you ever feel like opening, sorting and acting on emails is taking up half of your life?
In fact, in the workplace emails can take so long to sort through that the time you need to complete important tasks is quickly eaten into.
We are going to give you a clear and concise guide to email productivity that has the potential to make a significant difference to your work day and the way you perceive your work coming from emails.
1) Don’t Mark As Unread The Already Read Emails
One massive time-waster is that of searching through your inbox to find an email that you know you need to respond to.
The problem often exists thanks to the countless number of additional emails arriving fresh into your inbox before you have hardly had a chance to sort through any of the previous ones.
By marking emails as unread, you create a double work for you later. Why marking an email as unread after you have already read it? Instead, take an action – mark it as spam, delete it, reply or delegate it to a co-worker.
Add a visual sign that the email has been read and the work is in-progress (for example, integrate your email with personal Kanban board).
2) Have An Email Opening Schedule
By constantly checking your email throughout the day you can easily end up struggling to truly focus on the other important tasks that are on your urgent to-do list. That is why having an email opening schedule can be a great way to refine your email productivity.
You could set aside two specific times during the day when you check your emails and carry out any actions required from the check. For instance, this could be once in the morning and once in late afternoon.
Keep your inbox closed at other times so that you can focus on all of those other tasks that need to be completed (tasks, not related to your emails). By dedicating your time, focus and energy into your current task, without constantly checking your inbox, you will likely find that you complete work quicker and efficiently.
Of course, we know at times you may be waiting on important emails. In this case, you may need to have some flexibility with your rule, but in general, this tip can work very well on a daily basis.
3) Cut Down On The Countless Follow-Up Emails
You may have read and dealt with an email, however, if you don’t acknowledge the sender she will be completely unaware that you have read their email.
What will be the result? In two words – more emails!
To confirm that you have indeed received and perhaps also acted on the email, the sender may start bombarding your inbox with more emails. Not exactly what we call email productivity!
To avoid it send a quick reply that you have received and read their email, and you will be able to follow-up more extensively later when you have more time.
4) Minimize Your Inbox
Aiming for Inbox Zero is a great goal, and even if you don’t actually reach the zero part of it, it sure will help you get things on track to better email productivity.
Just in case you don’t know what we mean by Inbox Zero, it means exactly what the name portrays, an inbox that has zero emails in it. So where have all those emails disappeared to?
They have either been deleted if they are not necessary, delegated if this is possible or filed if they still need to be acted on at a later date.
This technique is a lot easier to implement than it may initially sound and can do a lot for your mental outlook when you open your inbox each day and only see a handful of new emails rather than a never-ending list of current and past mail.
5) Get Rid Of Those Email Alerts
Have you set up your email so that it makes that terrible ding sound every time you receive an email? Or you may have email signals that appear when you have a new email in your inbox.
If you are already implementing our rule of only checking your inbox at specific times during the day, you will do yourself a big favor if you get rid of these email alerts.
It is far too hard to give your full focus and attention to the task at hand when you have an email alert flashing or dinging in your face. It will only serve as a massive distraction, become an irritant and have a significant impact on your productivity across the day, not exactly what you want for your email productivity.
6) Don’t Send Unnecessary Emails
Sending and receiving replies from unnecessary emails can be a curse to your inbox and can quickly undo a lot of the tips we have outlined above.
For instance, a lot of in-house emails are simply not needed, sp before you send an email, think about whether you really need to send it.
7) Be Assertive In Your Emails
Here is what I mean by being assertive when you write emails.
For instance, let’s say you receive an email asking whether you will have a time for a meeting on a particular day and what time would suit you. Now let’s say you send a reply along the lines of ‘Yes, I can make on Friday, I’m free all afternoon, how about 2 pm or 3 pm? Or later if you prefer?’
What happens next? A response needs to come from the other party, which may also not specify a time and require you to send yet another email until the time is finally decided on.
The time and energy involved in this is painful.
Instead, a simple reply such as ‘Yes, Friday at 3:00 pm would be great. See you then’ should save you a lot of time and energy.
8) Have Good Ettique When You Send Emails
If the emails that you send show proper etiquette, there is a great chance that the replies you receive will be positive. Here are some tips which may help:
Keep your message short and to the point;
Be as direct as possible, words like ‘maybe’ and ‘perhaps’ can call for additional further action;
If there is one important point in your email, put it in bold;
Don’t copy everyone in the email, only those who absolutely need to receive it.
You see how practicing proper email etiquette yourself could encourage others to do the same. Emails that are short, clear, direct and relevant are precisely what you want to see every time you open your inbox and nothing else!
Indeed, we know that the average day places a lot of stress, commitments and deadlines for the majority of us. By making your email management more productive, you can devote your time and energy to the most important tasks.
Don’t let your inbox take over your life, instead, make it work for you!