10 Simple Tips to Effective Email Management
From the beginning, the email has been conceived with the intention to facilitate the communication. But there are moments when it is a counter-productive tool, because we spend too much time reading, writing and replying to different emails. For example, think about the following situations:
- There are days when you spend too much time checking and reading your emails instead of doing your proper work
- Quite often you make the emails your first priority, keep the email alerts open and read them in the very first moment of their arrival
- You spend too much time managing your email each day, like sorting and organizing them using different criteria, deleting old messages
I know I went through all these situations, although I have considered from the beginning that the emergence of this way of communication is a real blessing for everyone. At the end of the day, the email is just a tool for us to get our task done.
Below there are 10 simple tips that have helped me to improve my e-mail management and I hope they will help you too.
- Process your e-mails once or maximum twice a day
Even if sometimes I check my e-mails several times a day, I am not processing them right away. I have set aside two time slots for processing them, usually a half an hour in the morning and in the evening. This way, I am not overwhelmed with the emails and no urge to read or respond immediately. After all, the emails are a tool that helps me doing my work, not the work itself.
- Process your e-mail in batches
I usually process my Inbox in batches. So, I am not distracted from my important tasks and I am not interrupt from my work.
- Set up a limit to the time you spent in your Inbox
You don’t need to spend the whole day reading, replaying, archiving or deleting emails. The next time you log into your Inbox, time yourself and ask yourself how much time is well-spent. If you are organized and you have prioritize the emails, you’ll see that 20 or 30 minutes are enough to check your emails.
- Prioritize your e-mails
Not all the emails are the same. I love the 20/80 rule whose main idea is that 20% of inputs are responsible for 80% of outputs in any situation. This rule applies also for emails. I’m sure that most of you receive email from clients, providers, business partners, friends and/or different websites you have subscribed. In addition, I am sure that not all the emails have the same importance for you. Therefore, focus your attention to those 20% emails that lead to maximum output and postpone the other for later.
- Create folders (or labels) to keep you organized
The folders (if you use Outlook) or labels (if you use Gmail) are created for your help in organizing your emails. Create folders and name them according to your work and area of interest. Also, use the hierarchy structure in order to prioritize them. Therefore, first level folders are for the big categories, the second level folders are for sub-categories and so on. For example, if you are a freelancer who works as designer and content writer, you could name your first level folders as “design” and “content writing”. Second, in each folder you could create subfolders named according to your clients name or projects you are working for.
- Use filters
The filters are tools to help you in sorting out your emails automatically from the first moment they have got into your Inbox. Depending on your filters, the emails will be automatically sorted into a specific folder. These tools help you minimize the amount of the administrative actions.
- Realize you don’t need to replay every mail
Despite of what you think, you don’t need to replay every mail you get. It happened many times to get emails from people asking me for a quote or different information and, for a while, I have answered each of them. Sometimes, I have sent additional questions in order to help the peoples get to the point. At some of these emails I have never received an answer, not even a “thank you”. Which makes me think they were never read.
That’s why I believe you don’t need to reply every mail you get. If the effort of reading and replying exceeds the benefits obtained, then certainly they do not worth it. You should focus on those emails that give you inputs; the others will solve themselves.
- Use the rule of the 2 minutes
If it takes less than 2 minutes for reading and replying to an email, then do it at that moment. Otherwise, it will surely take longer if you keep thinking about that email, reread and answer later. But make sure you don’t take more than 2 minutes to answer an email. This way, it will be easier for you to process your emails in batches.
- Keep it short
I’m sure you don’t want to read and write essays in your emails. And you appreciate short and to the point messages. Try to keep the level of 5 maximum 6 sentences in your emails. This will help you focus on the subject and have an effective-organized communication way.
- Create replying templates if you send often similar answer
If you look through your sent emails, you’ll probably see that many of them have similar texts. Therefore, a solution is to create replying templates, which you can customize according to the specificity of every email you have to send. So, you’ll save a lot of time compared to the situation in which you write each mail from scratch.