I was thinking about the biggest distraction of my day. And while there are some that I manage effectively (like the phone and scheduling calls), the biggest time-suck, for me, is Email… you love what it lets you do. You can instantly reach out and touch just about anyone in the world that you want to. They can get back with you instantly. You don’t have to waste time on phone calls or person-to-person meetings. However, this amazing technology can become a time-stealing, headache-causing nightmare if you let it. Practice the following tips and strategies to take control of your email experience, rather than letting it control you.
1 – Stop saying yes to every free email opt-in report! There is nothing wrong with subscribing to an email list in order to get a free tool or report. However, this can get out of hand, cramming your email inbox with dozens or hundreds of posts each week.
2 – Cleanse your emails once a week. This is a practice where you unsubscribe from lists you never read. There are probably those emails that you instantly delete without reading, once you see who they are from. Unsubscribe from these email lists, picking one day a week to handle this task.
3 – Put technology to work. The email scheduling tool for Gmail called Boomerang can improve your communication skills and help you manage your inbox. SaneBox (a catchy name which promises to return your email sanity), Unroll.me, FollowUpThen, IFTTT, Google Inbox, and Sortd are just a few of the many excellent email management tools out there.
4 – Use the filters, rules, labels, etc. offered by your email provider. Every email service has built-in tools to make interacting with your email as headache-free as possible.
5 – Take action after reading each email. Don’t be afraid to hit that delete button. If you are not sure if you will use something later, save it to a folder. Don’t let your in-box grow to thousands of emails just because you put off deciding what to do with that information.
6 – Use short, quick replies whenever possible. Don’t spend 5 minutes answering an email when a quick yes or no answer would suffice.
7 – Disable notifications. This tip is huge. As you know, most email service providers have software set up to notify you for any incoming emails. They can send these notifications to your computer, your smartphone and smartwatch, and any other Internet-capable device you own. There is absolutely no way to get anything done when you are distracted and interrupted with an incoming notification of a new email dozens of times a day.
8 – Remember that your email is not a to-do list. Just because someone sends you an email does not mean you have to reply or do what that person tells you in that email.
9 – Delete all emails that are more than “X” days, weeks, months old. Honestly, do you really need to hang onto those emails that are 4 weeks old? You will have to come up with a time frame that works for you, but once you start sticking to your “delete if older than” formula, you will begin to see some real inbox-cleaning results. At a former job, I was encouraged one time to claim “email bankruptcy,” delete everything and start fresh all over. Delete them all and have Zero Inbox.
Which of these can YOU do? Leave a comment and let me know!