Checking your email regularly during the day can be an effective way to keep your inbox at manageable levels. But, the constant interruption and distraction that comes from multitasking in this way can decrease your productivity, and disrupt your ability to enter a state of flow when working. You may have to deal with unwanted emails, overflowing inboxes, and overlooked crucial messages. Here are a number of ways to consider:
Ways To Keep Your Inbox from Overflowing
- Prevent yourself from subscribing to various newsletters that simply end up wasting your time. Once you get too many of them, you’ll end up using too many hours just to keep up with the deluge. If you want, you can just use unroll.me to unsubscribe en masse so you get a clean slate.
- Boxbe is another good tool to use to prevent unwanted emails from reaching you. It screens the messages in your customized “waiting list”, while you only get the emails from the people on your “guest list”.
- Resist the urge to respond to emails right away. Many of these emails may seem urgent, but they actually end up resolving themselves. You also help train other people to rely on themselves.
- Sometimes people can bug you by sending follow-up emails if you don’t respond right away. It may help if you use an auto-responder with an automatic reply that you’ll get back to the sender as soon as you can.
- You can also prevent unnecessary back and forth email messages and longwinded goodbyes by making it clear the conversation is over. Stick to sending instructions (“let’s meet tomorrow at my office”) rather than vague questions (“should we meet sometime?”).
Ways To Spend Less Time on Email
- If you’re not really required to monitor emails so you can respond right away, you should just set aside a specific time for them. You can use the first 30 minutes of the workday for emails, and then you can end up the workday by checking your email before you log off and go home.
- If you’re tired of sending the same messages again and again as replies, you may want to try using the Gmail Canned Responses (if you’re using Gmail). You may also just save some templates in your draft folder.
- You can also just keep all your messages short. Treat your emails as text messages, and stick to the important facts. Keep it in just 5 sentences as a rule.
- Put in 2 filters or tags in your email: “needs focus” and “quick answers”. So when you have a solid block of time to spare, you can then give your attention to the emails with the “needs focus” tag. For the times when you’re just in the bathroom or lining up to get coffee, you can spare a few minutes for a few “quick answers” emails.
- If you tend to check your email on the phone, use auto text. It’s a tool that lets you use personalized abbreviations that can expand to a complete word or phrase.
- Set up your email account properly, so when you read or delete an email message, you get the next unread email in your inbox instead of the overall list of emails. This should save you a lot of time in the long run.
- You can also try the Email Game. It’s a game that rewards you with points depending on how many emails you go through in 5 minutes. This trains you to go faster with your email, and you’re also trained to deal with manageable batches of 10 or so emails for a short amount of time.
Ways To Organize Your Inbox
- Don’t let ‘read’ emails stay in your inbox. Archive, file, or delete them instead. It’s neater this way, and it reduces the visual clutter.
- Don’t use your email as your automatic “to do” list generator. These emails just provide a distraction, and you end up thinking about the things to do rather than your current work tasks.
- Some email systems (like Gmail) can archive some specified emails so they don’t have to go through your inbox at all. These can include emails on cable bills if you’re already set up for auto-pay.
- Be helpful to your friends by making sure your email messages are easily found through search. Use the right keywords.
- If you’re looking for an email message yourself, it’s actually easy once you familiarize yourself with the right tools. You can take a few minutes to learn how to search by sender, topic, or included word.
Ways To Make Your Inbox Better
- For Gmail users, it’s imperative to check out the Gmail Labs section in the settings. It’s full of nifty features that can help make Gmail more convenient.
- If you use Gmail and like using sticky notes, then you can try Notes for Gmail. This lets you add notes and tags to various email messages.
- For those hell-bent on networking, there’s also the Sales Navigator (previously Rapportive) add-on for Gmail. This is a plugin that shows a sender’s social networking info inside your inbox, so you can connect with them on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn without leaving your inbox. You can also see the most recent emails they’ve sent you, and you can attach notes to their email addresses.
- If you’re a Gmail fan but you want more, try Gmelius which contains tools for sales, collaborative teams, and security that even law firms and financial services will appreciate.
- What if you have an email that you can only deal with later, but you’re afraid you’re going to forget about it? You can try Boomerang, which is a plugin that will “disappear” the email and show it later so it doesn’t clutter up your inbox.
- Use Hellosign for Gmail if you send lots of signed documents and contracts. You can sign your documents and fill out the forms without leaving your inbox.
Ways To Get Your Emails Read
- Make the first 50 characters of your message count. Be concise and enticing, so that the reader will continue reading.
- Check that your text blocks are readable. Use short paragraphs and bullets.
- Highlight the meat of the message by using bold fonts for them. Put them in bullet form as well.
- Be specific when you ask questions so the recipient always knows what you’re talking about.
- If you’re not sure when to send your emails so they’ll be read, don’t send them on a Tuesday or Thursday. Studies show that people receive the most emails on these days.
- See to it that your subject line is clear about what the email is all about.
- Effective subject lines are designed to make the recipients either curious about what you have to say or eager about how helpful your message can be.
- If you want to know if your email messages are read or not, you can try the Mailtrack Chrome program that tells you when your emails are opened in real time.
Yes, it’s a long list, but go through them anyway. You’ll find that they can make your email experience short, efficient, and much more enjoyable!
Here are other ways to be productive.