While email is a great form of communication, it shouldn’t be all-consuming. Here’s how to break unhelpful habits and create a healthier, more efficient relationship with emails.
Develop an email schedule.
Many people consider achieving inbox zero to be the ultimate email management success. The goal is to keep your inbox clean at all times and regularly check for new emails. While checking your email may seem productive, it can take time and focus away from other work tasks. If you want to reduce workplace distractions and become more productive, ditch the concept and create a schedule to limit the time spent reading and responding to emails.
There is no rule for what type of schedule works best. If you aren’t sure how often you need to be in your inbox, try checking it at three designated times each day for a week or a fixed amount of time. Then reduce the time the following week until you find the minimum amount of time you need to adequately respond.
Organize content in folders.
We often rely on email for important work history information. But with the number of emails most of us receive daily, finding a message you need can feel like searching for a needle in a haystack. One of the easiest ways to save yourself a headache is to develop a robust email organization system. Create folders for timely emails or informative messages to keep your inbox clean and manageable. If you work for a company that has several departments, it might be beneficial to organize your account by department, with subfolders for time-sensitive material. You can also create folders for recurring projects or events.
Unsubscribe from email chains.
An integral part of the email organization process is in the magic of the unsubscribe link. It’s easy to become inundated with offers from companies and vendors by signing up for their lead magnets, but if their subsequent correspondence only adds to your email backlog, it might be time to unsubscribe. Be ruthless with this; marketers know they need to earn subscribers’ attention. There are apps that allow you to mass unsubscribe from newsletters and more that are clogging up your inbox.
Clear the clutter.
Past emails can be helpful when you want to retrace your steps in a conversation, but you don’t need to keep every little message. Sure, conversations about action items will help down the line. But an email confirming that the team meeting was moved from 2:30 to 3:00 p.m.? Maybe not as important. Regularly delete the emails you don’t need to keep so it’s easier to search your inbox when you do need something important.
Set email reminders.
One of the reasons people read emails as soon as they receive them is to avoid accidentally forgetting about them later. Let your email platform do the work of remembering for you so that you can focus on your highest priorities. Some platforms will allow you to mark and set timed reminders for specific messages. If you can sync your calendar with your email platform, you may also be able to create an event from an email. This can be especially helpful if your response requires some extra thought. With the right tools and habits, you can easily strengthen your inbox management practices and improve your daily tasks. Email inbox management practices can save you tons of time and stress.