Do you deal with an avalanche of emails a day? Do you spend hours checking, replying, deleting? Have you ever wasted valuable time trying to find that one important email amidst the junk mail and stupid forwards? Here are some ways to take charge of your inbox and deal with your email productively and efficiently.
Act on emails when you read them
Don’t shuffle through emails and then promise to get back to them at a later time, because you won’t. Just read them once and at that moment either reply, delete or file them. Since this obviously takes time and presence of mind, then only check email when you are ready. Set a specific hour each day (for example, 10 am and 4 pm) and purposefully address your emails.
Use other means of communication
When you see an email that you feel will need a lot of discussion or clarification, then call the person or set a meeting. Email exchanges can lead to confusion and may waste more time in the long run. Some topics are easier and better to tackle with a 3 minute phone call than 5 or 6 emails that each take about 10 to 15 minutes to write and read. So it’s easier for people to contact you, set your email signature to reflect your office local and mobile number.
Prevent accidental emails
Enable your email’s recall function so you can retrieve a message that was sent to the wrong person. To prevent any accidents, only put the recipients after you’ve finished writing the email. That way you don’t accidentally send the message before you’re completed it or reviewed it.
Many web-based emails allow you to filter messages based on who sent them, and automatically put them to different folders which you can view at your leisure. You can sort your email based on “Work”/”Family”/”Friends” and even set up a separate folder for any notifications or newsletters that you have signed up for.
Write meaningful subject lines
Instead of saying “Re: Meeting” or even worse leaving the subject line blank, give complete information such as “Meeting Notes, Oct 3 sales meeting” or “Request for information on the Campbell account”. This not only helps get the attention of the person you are sending it to, but it also means their replies are clearly labeled and easy to find in your own inbox.
Create an archive folder
Your inbox should hold current emails. Every month delete emails you don’t need and then move the important ones to an Archive folder, labeled by month or content (ex: “sales reports”) or the name of the sender—whatever works for you.