A McKinsey Global Institute study has found that reading and responding to emails is by far the most time-consuming work activity; almost 650 hours a year spent on communications alone!
It would make sense to try and find the best ways to cut down those hours and channel them to other tasks leading to an increase in productivity. However, filtering through the countless opinions about the best practices and tips for email management to decide which methods are going to work best for you individually can be time-consuming.
To provide a comprehensive resource, we have curated an all-inclusive list of a variety of email management tips in ten concise points. If you're a professional looking to boost productivity in the workplace, these ten tips will help guide you toward the ultimate in email efficiency.
Make use of better email management software.
Emails are the engines most companies run on, and they are crucial to communication in today's fast-paced work environments. How then can you spend less time juggling your email correspondence and keeping track of vital documents?
Adopt instant message or chat software for short messages that need quick replies. You can use email management software like MxHero, a Microsoft Outlook add-in that integrates with Box to convert your emails to easy-to-locate and shareable PDF documents, reducing the time you'd otherwise spend searching and managing your inbox.
Create separate email accounts for each part of your life.
This email inbox management tip helps you to compartmentalize emails, funnelling them into divisions that make it easier to focus on the needful per time. Accounts can be created for corporate emails, Social and Bulk mails from lifestyle subscriptions and an account can be separated for Family and Friends.
This way, you don't have to spend as much time searching for urgent and important threads as you would have to do if all your emails came into one account.
Protect your time
Not an email management tip you'd have expected right? Protecting personal time is essential for your physical and mental health and improves performance during your work time.
Therefore, only focus on one account per time. This is why creating separate email accounts is important; you can dedicate work hours to attend to work emails while switching off notifications of other accounts and doing vice versa after work hours. Your friends and family, even your favourite game or TV show, deserve your undivided attention, and you deserve some unclogged me-time.
Create templates of replies.
If you often send similar repetitive replies, save a copy of each reply in your drafts and with a few clicks and edits, you can easily copy and paste them in response to other mails. This cuts the time you'd have spent in creating a fresh email response by more than half and gives you confidence that you'd have sent something of quality since you'd responded similarly before.
Unsubscribe with a fiery passion.
Clean out the clutter by unsubscribing from unwanted newsletters and promotions. Don't be afraid. If you haven't read a particular newsletter two weeks in a row, then you don't need it. Not to worry, if you need the information they share at a later time, you can resubscribe to get their updates.
Skim and Act.
This is a principle that relies on making a decision right away. It is sometimes referred to as the Only Handle It Once (OHIO) method in email management.
Revisiting the same email over and over again is bound to waste a lot of time. So once you read an email, take whatever action needs to be taken, close it and move on to the next priority. Keeping this mindset is essential, especially since we all deal with a humongous volume of email every day. This saves you from constantly getting distracted by the thought of unreplied emails, which can drastically lower your productivity.
Prioritize according to urgency and importance.
There will be emails that require a more thought out and framed response. Spontaneity will not work in such cases. For emails, you do not have time for right away, flag them and come back to them during your downtime.
Starring or snoozing these emails, will remind you that you need to get back to something which requires your attention. You can sort these emails in a way that they appear at the top. You can also mark the emails as unread so that you can respond to emails that are the most time pressing.
Allocate time blocks to review your inbox daily.
Allocating a fixed time every day to deal with email helps you dedicate more time to concentrate on other tasks of the day. Leaving email open all day long will mean notifications, alerts, and beeps interrupting the workflow and disrupting focus. Schedule specific blocks of time just for email preferably some time at the start of the day, midday and at the day's end, to ensure you're not leaving something crucial unattended to before you sign off for the day.
Archive emails that you have attended to.
They will no longer show up in your email interface, reducing whatever stress or feeling of being overwhelmed you may have experienced before when your inbox was full. And if you need to find such emails at a later date, a Microsoft outlook add-in like MxHero's is excellent at ferreting them out. You can, for example, search for all emails by the same sender, or subject.
If you already have 10,000+ unread emails, don't rush it, don't be overwhelmed. Trust the process.
If you have accumulated an ocean-size volume of emails before encountering these email management tips, don't allow the numbers to daunt you. You didn't accrue these emails in one day, and you may not be able to get rid of them all in one day either. Decide which of the tips best work for you, 3 or 4 per time, deploy them and see how much lighter you can make your emails every week.
How many emails do you have presently, and how much less of them do you have every week? Give it time.
Remember, you're the boss.
Stay focused, stay confident and hit those productivity goals out of the ballpark.