There is no doubt that the advent of email has changed billions of lives and literally the way we work. Of course, we all know the benefits of email and how it has enabled us to take productivity to another level completely. It can also undermine your productivity if you are not using it correctly though.
How often do you find yourself checking your email, every 5 minutes, 30 minutes, 3 hours? The next important question is how effectively do you manage your email? We have many tools which assist us in being more productive and optimizing our time, but most often, we don’t pay attention to optimizing the tools we have.
You know if you are not managing your email effectively because:
- You always have many emails in your inbox
- You are checking your email more often than needed
- You feel overwhelmed and disorganized with your emails
- You read the same email a few times before actually taking action on it
If you want to manage your time better and build a great time management skill, start with one small tool at a time.
How to master your email so you are not a slave to it anymore…
1. Filter – I would suggest starting by filtering your email. Do you read every email that you receive? If not, unsubscribe from the emails that you automatically delete. If you have some that you want to keep to read later, create a folder like this.
2. Inbox 0 – It might seem like an elusive dream but it is definitely possible. If you have an overwhelming amount of emails, you will need to dedicate some time to dealing with this first.
a. Create folders – Almost all email programs allow you to do this. Create the folders that would work best for you. Examples are: Read later, follow up on, personal emails, reference emails, etc.
b. Take action every time –Every time you check your email, you go through each one and you take action on them. Will you delete it, reply, delegate, archive, put it on your to do list? Whatever you do, take action. Don’t leave it there thinking you’ll handle it later. It is this exact thinking that keeps you working ineffectively.
3. Batching – Batch your email checking so you can deal with them all together at certain times throughout the day. The frequency will depend largely on your work, but also keep the right mindset. If you don’t reply in two hours, is it really a train smash? Most of the time we put unnecessary pressure on ourselves.
Use an auto-responder if it helps, for example: ‘Thank you for your email. I only check my email at the following times, if it is urgent, please contact me on xxxx’. This way you can focus on your other work and get more done and the sender also has a clearer idea of when you will reply.
Checking your email throughout the day can be one of your biggest time thieves.
4. Communication – A lot of time can be wasted with ineffective communication. Remember that emails are not conversations, if you need to speak to the person, pick up the phone. Emails going back and forth can really waste time, especially if you are not concise and clear in your communication.
If you want to improve your productivity, start to be more proactive in managing your email and mastering these skills. It is in the small tasks that we mismanage where we find the biggest time wasters. Keeping your inbox to 0 will keep you more organized and less stressed!
Do you want more time management skills? Check out ‘Maximize your time to maximize your profits’.