When you wake up, what’s the first thing you do? You probably check your mobile phone for messages. Some of you may even check your email.
Email is one of the most popular forms of communication these days. In a 2015 survey, there were 232.9 million email users in the United States, and experts expect that number to balloon to 254.7 million in 2020. Here in Florida, 14.8 million people, or 78.8% of the population, are avid internet users, and a majority of them use email.
Are you one of those who go through their inbox first thing in the morning? If so, how long does it take you to go through emails every day? Do you keep checking your email every few minutes? Do you end up searching, sorting, and deleting emails the entire morning instead of getting work done? Going through your personal or official email does, in fact, take time and effort. That's why it's important to manage your inboxes.
Why is it important to manage your email?
Many employees, especially knowledge workers, squander their time checking and answering emails intermittently throughout the day. This habit breaks their concentration and prevents them from focusing and doing deep work.
What is deep work? The term was coined by author and computer science professor Cal Newport in 2012. He defined it as “[p]rofessional activity performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that [pushes] your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate.” Without distractions, you’re more focused and more efficient at work.
To concentrate more on your tasks, you need to manage your email habits so they cease to be a distraction. Also, when you work on your emails, make sure you’re focused only on that.
How to manage your email?
Like all communication apps, email is a tool to get your tasks done. It should help you with your job, not be the job itself. Learn how to manage your email better with these practical tips:
Email is a tool to get your tasks done. It should help you with your job, not be the job itself.
#1 Work through your email once a day
It’s best if you set aside some time daily in your work calendar for going through your emails and processing them. You can choose first thing in the morning or last thing before your workday ends. That way, you’re focused only on one task at a time.
And if you’re an employee whose work or role means that you get time-sensitive emails, you can allow yourself to check your inbox after a particular task. But you don’t have to process every email that pops up. Because you need to…
#2 ...prioritize only the most important ones, and defer the rest
How do you prioritize emails? Use the 80/20 rule — 20% of your emails are responsible for 80% of your work output. So focus only on the 20% high-value emails.
#3 Categorize your email
To help you prioritize, you can create folders so you can categorize your emails in order of priority — from highest to lowest. Not only will folders make your inbox look neater, but they also provide a visual hierarchy of your priorities.
#4 Don’t reply to every email
Not all emails are important, and some of them don’t even need a reply or an acknowledgement receipt. You can follow up or resolve emails from colleagues either in person or on a messaging platform like Slack. And sometimes no reply is a reply. So don’t stress yourself with every email. Reply only if it’s necessary or if the cost of not replying outweighs the benefits.
#5 Set aside days for you to “Reply by this day”
Urgent emails that need an immediate response are few and far between. Set aside days of the week for you to reply to your emails (2–5 days from receipt should do, but adjust accordingly). Then create a “Reply by this day” folder where you can file emails that need a response from you.
#6 Use templates for repeated replies
Since you categorize your emails, you may notice that you send similar types of replies. A few examples would be thank you emails, standard “we’ll get back to you” replies, feedback, and recurring requests. Create templates for such repeating replies, and just customize parts of the email as necessary. That way, you spend less effort than if you were to write replies from scratch.
#7 Use the “one minute to reply” rule
You’ll save time working on high-priority emails that only take a minute to reply. Keeping a one minute rule will also remind you to not take too much time replying, letting you clear your inbox faster.
#8 If you barely read them, then unsubscribe from them
Sometimes we can’t help but click “subscribe” to newsletters or news feeds. Maybe you think, “What’s the harm? I may come across something interesting.” But if you end up skipping many of those newsletters, then better just unsubscribe and declutter your inbox.
#9 Use email filters
Filters sort out your mail automatically. This frees you up from manually forwarding them to your category folders. And it helps keep spam and malware-infected email at bay.
These tips will help you and your staff be more efficient at managing your work email. And if you want your business to be more efficient with your technology, then you should partner with a trusted managed IT services provider (MSP) like HERO Managed Services, LLC. Our experts will help you improve your IT infrastructure so it’s perfectly aligned with your business goals.
Are you unsure if your Tampa, Sarasota, or Orlando-based business needs an MSP? Then contact us today and avail of our free IT consultation.