Do you get inundated with emails every day? Do you spend a lot of time trying to deal with your Inbox? The problem is so pervasive that it has its own term: email overload. Some people receive hundreds of emails a day, causing anxiety in even opening up Inboxes. Important work can be missed or a disproportionate amount of time is wasted with email follow ups. All of this eats into your ability to manage your own work and your team.
But we have got your back! Here at Priority Management we believe that everyone should experience an empty Inbox moment at least once a day, for that so needed peace of mind.
So here are our 5 TIPS to help you manage your emails more efficiently and free-up time:
1. WHAT IS YOUR TYPE?
Developing good email habits starts with determining how you currently manage emails. People who struggle with email volume typically fall into one of the types below.
By identifying your current type, you can focus on what needs improving!
Do you think you are any of the following email user types?
Fast responders - you respond right away to most or all emails. While you are reliably responsive, the time dedicated to emails is detracting from your overall productivity.
Email savers - you respond quickly to most emails, but are inconsistent in deleting or filing. Not clearing out your inbox or using a filing system makes it difficult to track conversations, pull information about emails at a later time, and can be stressful just seeing an ever-growing inbox.
Email ignorers - you rarely read or respond to emails. While you are not wasting time on emails and can focus on value-add work, you are missing out on important communications, which can frustrate your colleagues and detract from your work product.
2. RULE OF 3 - REPLY, TASK OR DELETE
Quickly prioritising your emails will fell like you have won at least half the battle on how to
manage your inbox. Email overload is ultimately a function of deficient email management. Going back to the same email multiple times is a waste, the intent is to touch it once! Identify and rank emails as follows:
Priority and urgent: These emails will be immediately evident to you. The sender or the subject matter will jump out at you. Reply to these right away.
Important but not urgent: These emails require a response or action, but not immediately. Create a Task with the email for a later date or block time in the calendar for actioning it.
Not important or urgent: Delete emails that are not important and do not require a response.
Most email applications have a suite of features that facilitate email prioritisation, such as flagging, starring emails or even better creating action items. Filing and tagging systems also make it easy to retrieve emails for response or reference at a later time. Learning your email software and its tools will make you a far more effective email manager.
3. UNSUBSCRIBE UNWANTED EMAILS
Junk email can easily comprise upwards of eighty percent of all correspondence you receive. Most of these emails are not wanted, so a leap forward in how to manage too many emails is to prevent these from getting into your inbox in the first place.
Once you receive one of those emails, you may want to unsubscribe from their mailing list. At the bottom of such emails is usually an unsubscribe button. Simply hit this link, and if taken to an option screen, select the types of emails you want to receive from this sender - in most cases it will be “unsubscribe from all.”
4. BLOCK TIME FOR CHECKING EMAILS
Responding to important emails is an essential task for all positions. Rather than feeling like email is controlling you, take steps to put yourself in control of it by setting aside time every day to answer emails.
Determine the time of day that is most productive for this task. Do not wait until evening when you are too tired, or do it sporadically throughout the day, which detracts from your focus.
EXTRA TIP: Depending on your job role, we suggest you turn email notifications off so avoid distractions!
5. CHOOSE THE BEST COMMUNICATION TOOLS
Instant messaging has gained prominence in the workplace. Chat applications allow for rapid exchanges that are highly efficient when properly applied. Chats are the preferred method for getting instant answers or guidance on roadblocks.
When used for these and similar purposes, instant messaging can reduce email inundation. Of course, if chat becomes a full replacement for email, then the team runs the risk of having instant messaging overload.
To maximise efficiency with communications, teams are advised to create communications best practices. This includes establishing when to use Email versus Chat, and Posts and if using Microsoft Teams, agree the right structure when creating Channels.
Communications best practices will also set expectations around online and in-person meetings, and the scenarios when these are more beneficial than written communications.
By establishing communications best practices, optimising the use of different communications methods, and applying the email overload minimising tips above, email will become less of a chore and more of what it should be - a tool that makes you more effective and productive.
If you are interested in being your own Inbox Boss, click here to find out how our Prioritising to Work Effectively: WorkingSmart with Outlook Training can help you get there!
Priority Management is a worldwide training company with 55 offices in 15 countries. We have successfully trained more than two million graduates in Priority workshops. Our programs help companies and people be more effective and manage their workflow in and out of the office by providing tools, processes and discipline. Simply put - A Better Way To Work! Clients range from Fortune 500 companies, small-to-medium businesses and government/military employees.
Click Here to learn more about how Priority can help you and your team Work Smart, develop essential management skills and the competencies to....make life and work better and happier!
This blog has been sourced by Priority Management International and edited by Priority Management London.