Does the mere thought of too many emails send you into a cold sweat? Is your mailbox a mess of unread messages and tasks saved for later?
It doesn’t have to be this way. The dream of an organised inbox may seem a world away, but it’s closer than you think.
Email, like any other tool, adds value to your life when used properly. With a smart plan, you can turn your inbox into one of your greatest communication allies.
Your email is a part of your identity. Guard it carefully
This principle could be considered the “Golden Rule” of email management. For busy people, it’s essential that you give out your email address only to those who need it. If your address is floating around in too many places, your inbox will start overflowing.
A method to guard your identity is to use a couple of email addresses. You have your “real” email address – the one you use every day. An alternative address you can be used when filling in forms, making online purchases, etc. That second address will direct all of the promotional messages and other junk to your alternative email, so your main address can remain clean.
In a world where many people struggle with their work-life balance, separate email addresses are a great place to start. Just use an app that can easily keep all your accounts in one place, but managed separately.
Don’t let the dust settle
Procrastination can lead to problems in many areas of your life. That’s certainly true when it comes to emails. If you don’t deal with your emails soon after they arrive, you’ll soon have a mess on your hands.
Try establishing a schedule for going through your inbox. For instance, you might make a plan to manage emails three times per day. Take care of this task in the morning, after lunch and before going home. With three check-ins, you’ll keep up sufficiently without it taking over your day.
Using technology to your advantage is helpful in this pursuit. Try the Play My Emails feature in Outlook for iOS. This feature plays emails aloud and offers a handy summary of your inbox and calendar.
Whether you use it to see what’s new in your inbox at work or for a personal account, you can listen and act on messages with simple voice commands or a one-finger swipe to triage as you go. To reply to an email, simply dictate a short message and send it off. It’s great for catching up in the morning when commuting or during your lunch break when you may be doing other things.
Deleting an email can be hard. Even if you don’t think you’ll need that message in the future, it’s still tough to press the button. But you’ve got to do it.
It’s essential to delete irrelevant emails because they can take a mental toll if left alone. The feeling of clutter in your inbox can cause you to feel overwhelmed, even if those messages aren’t necessary. By regularly deleting work emails, you are taking a small step towards lowering your stress levels.
Still not sure that you can get into this habit? Try an intermediate step. Instead of deleting emails immediately, swipe to schedule them to come back in your inbox at a more convenient time. Otherwise, remove the rest and enjoy your weekend.
No need for a novel
We are all guilty of using too many words from time to time. It’s easy to get carried away in emails when a shorter message would almost certainly do the job.
Teach yourself to write shorter messages when corresponding with colleagues and clients as well as friends and family. You will save time by writing shorter emails and your message will be clearer, as well.
There is an art to writing short, informative emails. You may find it difficult at first, but it will get manageable with practice. Soon, you’ll notice that most of your messages are no more than a few sentences.
Also, you can use bullet points to present a few ideas quickly and concisely. The recipients of your messages will love the brevity, and you’ll get more done day after day.