Do you ever get overwhelmed in a never-ending battle between managing emails and staying on top of your tasks?
Going through each email all the time may seem like you’re being productive (because it’s part of work, you say) but the truth is emails are easily one of the constant distractions from having actual work done.
Without a daily routine and discipline in check, it’s so easy to get lost in a sea of emails, but the good news is that there are practical and efficient ways to manage emails and get your sanity back.
1. Set a specific time to check emails
You don’t need to read and reply each email as they come–check your inbox two to four different times a day or depending on your situation.
This may take a great dose of self-discipline to develop this habit but the whole point in this is to help you allot a deliberate time to manage emails and finish your tasks.
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2. Create a system to sort emails
Ideally, you might want to start your day with an empty inbox. To get them organized, make the necessary actions as they are read. If it requires an immediate response or action on your part, then do it right away.
If it needs more time to complete, move it manually to an appropriate folder (where you can read them later) or create email rules if you receive these types of emails regularly. Delete if it doesn’t require your attention.
3. Go straight to the point
Keep your emails brief and concise–be clear on what your message is about and what you want the reader to do. Make sure to include all the important facts in your email, and go straight to the point.
You can even use the subject line as your entire message if it’s really short. An example would be: “Reminder: Team meeting in Room 403 at 2:30 PM (EOM). EOM stands for End of Message which literally means it’s the end to the message and the recipient shouldn’t bother opening the email anymore.
4. Make your emails readable
Busy people have less time to read through a bunch of texts. Most of them just scan it quickly. To ensure that your message doesn’t get overlooked, here’s what you can do:
- Make it actionable with names of people for each action item.
- Write in short paragraphs with two to three lines and include a space in between paragraphs.
- Use bullet points so it’s easier to read
5. Unsubscribe if you have to
It can be very frustrating to wade through hundreds of unwanted emails before you reach the right one. To reduce all the noise, simply click on the Unsubscribe link which is typically found at the bottom of the email.
Some email marketers might need you to manually send an “Unsubscribe me” email to completely remove your email address from their list. Or you can also set up an email filter that deletes incoming emails you want to unsubscribe from.
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6. Send it to the right recipient
Before hitting that Send button, segregate your recipients as to who should be in the To, CC and BCC. Don’t include people who should not be part of the conversation, and only include people who need to take action or whom the email is directly addressable to in the To: field. The rest should go into the CC: field.
7. Follow basic email etiquette
- Always be polite. Use appropriate salutation when needed.
- Proofread your emails before sending them.
- Respect people’s time. Read #3 to do this.
- Make your subject line clear and complete.
- It’s a common courtesy to reply within 24 hours even just to say that you’ve read the email.
8. Unplug from notifications
Email notifications from a mobile device or desktop can kill your productivity. Why? Because they interfere with what you’re doing and make you stay out of focus from your tasks.
Turn them off including notifications from your social media profiles, text and chat messages and calls. Set a specific time when you can read them.
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9. Minimize attachments
To go about this, here are some tips:
- If you’re unsure on what file type your recipient is using, save attachments as Plain text, RTF (Rich Text Format) or PDF (Portable Document Format).
- Large file attachments can cause your recipient to exceed their inbox size. If you’re sending attachments in larger megabytes, compress them using SecureZip.
- When possible, use links to files instead of the attachments. Dropbox and Google Drive are examples of cloud-based file sharing app that you can use when attachments are too big to attach.
10. Manage email signatures
Whether you’re using one email for personal, business, or other purposes, you may want to customize email signatures depending on who your recipient is. This can help you save time when replying to emails.
Following the email hacks outlined above can help you reduce the amount of time spent checking and responding to emails and vastly improve your productivity habits. If you want to add more to the list, feel free by adding your comments below.