Email. It’s the bane of the modern workplace. Most people get way more email than they want or can handle. How can you take back control of your inbox? There are lots of little tricks you can do to get back in control.
Turn off pop-up notifications.
Turn off pop-up notifications so you don’t see when you have a new email immediately. There are very few emails that need to be handled immediately. Make it known that extremely urgent issues need to be sent to you through other means. This gives you the freedom to check your email when you want, not when it arrives.
Schedule email checking/responding time.
If you aren’t checking your email every time one arrives, this gives you freedom to decide when to check it. Schedule email time into your workday, just like you would a meeting. Take that time to fully commit to reading and handling your email. It will feel more like a task, and less like an interruption if you are prepared and dedicate time specifically to it.
Create a folder system.
Set up and use a folder system that works for you. This can differ for every person, but it should be a system that is logical and easy to understand. Maybe it’s as simple as 4 folders (“Action Items,” “Waiting,” “Reference,” and “Archives.”), or as complex as a folder for every client or member on your team. The important thing is to find something that works for you and stick to it.
Set up auto sort rules.
Almost every email program allows you to set up rules that automatically sort emails into folders. Do this to get the emails that aren’t urgent out of your inbox, and into a folder so you can choose when to look at them.
Send less email.
Acknowledge emails that require a response.
Email senders want to know you got their emails. Acknowledge that you received it. If you don’t have an immediate answer, give a time frame for when you’ll send a full response. This eliminates people following up to see if you got an email.
If you often answer the same questions, or send the same emails repeatedly, create pre-written templates and responses. This will greatly reduce the amount of time spent crafting email replies for items that you handle often.
Choose your words carefully in order to avoid ambiguity and misinterpretation. The more precise you are upfront, the less likely you’ll receive responses asking follow up questions seeking additional clarity.
Always proofread your emails. This includes not just spellcheck, but also reading through to ensure your grammar is correct, you’ve used the right words, and the overall message is clear and what you want to say.