How to Manage Your Email Effectively
If you're somebody like me who is online more than 4 hours a day, then I'm sure you realize the importance of email and always want to manage it more efficiently. It won't be an overstatement if I tell that now; email is the second most common method to communicate after telephone. And I'm sure it will surmount it soon as nowadays, many people are already using their phones to send email.
Therefore the ways to manage your email and increase your productivity while dealing with your inbox are more important than before. Below I will list seven simple methods which I have followed and have assisted me a lot. Before I start, I'd like to mention that these methods are only for those who receive less than 300 to 400 emails a day. If you receive more, then I think you need to hire someone like a virtual assistant to manage your email immediately.
Here are the ways to manage your email even like an expert:
1. Set a time frame. This is very important, because it is really easy to lose track of time when checking your email. While deleting and replying, you simply forget the time and notice later that four hours has passed. You could set three slots of 20-30 minutes each to check your email, during different time of the day. Set reminders or use other time tracking tools to keep track of your time.
2. Use Gmail. If you're using a different web based email, you'd better switching to Gmail at once. It will make you much more productive. You could also forward emails in your original email addresses to Gmail, so there is no need to changing your email addresses, which is probably preferred. I recommend the use of Gmail, because as someone who has tried various email clients in the past years, I find nothing better. Gmail has some amazing features including filters and keyboard shortcuts and if you use a desktop client like Outlook, then it also provides for IMAP access which makes life easier.
3. Prioritize using Labels and Folders. It's important to distinguish the important emails from the unimportant ones. If you use Gmail, you can set filters ahead which will do the job automatically by applying labels to the incoming mails. In all the other email clients, there are also folders which you can use to prioritize your emails. You can make folders named "friends", "highlights" and so on. When you open your inbox, you can start shifting emails to their respective folders immediately.
4. Be accurate. Be accurate and pertinent when replying emails. If you use web-based email and Firefox as your browser, there are some add-ons such as Paste Email which could help you to paste reiterative texts in forms or emails just with one or two clicks.
5. Delete unsparingly. You can easily know from the subject line of an email if it's worth reading. If it isn't, delete it without thinking again. If you neglect, thinking that you will probably read it later, then believe me, that email will stay there as unread until you finally determine to eliminate it. Behave upon the email the first time you see it by replying immediately, deleting it, or setting it as a task to achieve at a specific time.
6. Don't pass it on to the next day. Do your best to finish replying the emails and clearing your inbox within the time frame you set. Although it's not always accomplishable, especially if you receive more than 100 emails a day, if the emails keep pending the next day, it will become much more difficult for you to manage. Think about your inbox like a snowball, the more it rolls, the larger it becomes.
There are also some tips for Outlook users. If you receive an email which you would like to address tomorrow, right click it and drag it to your task pad. You can specify a due date and a priority level. You can even specify it to someone else. If you do this constantly, you'll have a effective task list to work from and a clean inbox. This will completely get rid of the inbox browsing that you're doing now. If it's a critical task or something that will take a long time to finish, drag it to your calendar instead and make an appointment with yourself to dedicate time to it.
7. Check the source. In spite of the aforesaid six methods, if you still feel it difficult to manage your email, you should check the source of your emails and try to identify something more useful. For example, if you receive hundreds of emails from the contact form of your website, you should find out the major concern which your readers have and publish something on your website to help those readers, thereby help reduce your incoming email flow.
Email is a very great tool only if you know how to manage it. Unfortunately, not everyone knows that. Most of them are managed by their email! Keep it under control by following these tips. If you have any other great ideas, let us know in the comments.