The email inbox is either your friend or your foe, but most of the time, if managed poorly, it becomes Pandora’s box, it gobsmacks you with a ton of headache and frustration, and it’s the perfect way to cripple or even hinder your productivity. But, if it’s properly managed, the email can be a very good friend of yours that leads you to productivity and efficient collaboration.
This quick guide would lead you to the path in reaching email bliss.
1. Sort Your Email
The first move to achieving inbox zero is not letting the number of your emails grow in the first place. Because if the number of emails in your inbox reaches a number of at least 10, it would definitely cause a significant distraction that hinders your productivity. If at the end of the day you look at your inbox, and there are items in there that are sitting for more than a day, the advice is that you need to rethink your email strategy, by that, we don’t mean that you should guard your email every minute of the time, but it’s a good practice to sort the email out as soon as it arrives.
If the email you received, for example, isn’t relevant to you and doesn’t demand action for you, you could straight up send it to the archives. If it does demand a very quick and simple reply from you, do it immediately and then send it to the archives. If a relevant email lands on your inbox that needs an elaborate and detailed response, you can save it to a list and then deal with it at a later time.
2. Simplicity Is Key
When writing an email, you should always maintain conciseness and constantly fight the impulse of writing emails with excessive details. This would allow you to write a quick reply, then carry on with your work as quickly as possible. As a general rule, impose a strict rule of not exceeding five sentences which consists of the whole body of your email. You can think of email as you would of instant messaging or SMS messaging, only more detailed and formal, this would veer your mind off of the cliche that emails have to be long, detailed, and extensive. Also remember that the simpler and the more direct your emails are, the easier for the receiver to understand what your message is. We’re not saying that you should no longer use extensive details on your email if it requires you to be a lot more detail-oriented, if it would help the email become more useful, you are more than free to go right ahead.
3. Do Not Hoard Emails
Just like with your stuff, there should also be a rule for your email that if it’s no longer being used, it has to go. If for example you are subscribed to a number of newsletters or offers and you no longer remember when was the last time you opened it, you must go right ahead then and unsubscribe.
It takes time investment in order for you to accomplish decluttering your inbox, but the results would be more than worth it, the time you spent now clearing your inbox would be more than recuperated by the time you will save by not having to deal with them in the future.
4. Be Realistic
You might think that creating separate folders to route your emails to would be helpful, but it might actually be a waste of your time. While it’s great for physical files to be sorted and organized well, you don’t have to do the same when it comes to your email inbox. Just quickly taking care of emails as they come and being disciplined in deleting unnecessary ones and you’ll set up for good. If for example, you are looking for some email, just search for it, and you find it in no time.
5. Give Email A Schedule
While this one might sound counterintuitive, it’s actually not, allowing yourself to do email only at a specified time, gives you more focus on dealing with them and finish them off more quickly, plus email doesn’t hinder your productivity while you are doing your actual work.