In the digital age, there is a lot of information coming at you constantly. And with email, there’s an unspoken expectation that you will be available around the clock. Even once you’ve mastered the basics of email management, you may still struggle to keep up and stay organized.
So we’ve assembled a list of 4 tips to help you up your game to the next level and achieve expert status!
- Create a Unified Inbox
How many email accounts do you juggle? And how often do you switch between them? With some email clients, you can create a folder to manage all your email accounts in one place. No more losing time logging in and out of different accounts or trying to remember which one has a specific email!
Instead, you can get and sort everything in one place. You can even create specific labels for each account to sort messages at a glance.
- Develop and Save Templates
After a while, you may notice you get many of the same kinds of messages that require very similar responses. You can save a lot of time by creating templates from your sent messages to reuse later with minor modifications.
A pro-tip for this strategy is to always save templates together somewhere easily accessible. You don’t want to waste time searching! Something as simple as a Google Doc, Slack draft, or Evernote is a great solution.
And if you notice you start having to make more modifications to a note over time, update it with a new version to save more time down the road. This is especially important if your templates use dates, links, or titles that may change over time.
- Make a Planned Schedule for your Email
We all have high- and low-energy periods during the day. It’s wise to plan your email time around that. Some emails require more focus and concentration than others; you’ll want to do those during your best hours. But others just require a quick acknowledgment or sorting into the appropriate folder. Those can wait for a low-energy moment while you’re waiting for your coffee to kick in.
We recommend designating a few time blocks in your day for emails. One can be an initial sort and orientation for the day. You can use another to handle the high-priority emails that require your focus. And then do a final day wrap-up when you tie up loose ends.
- Prioritize Your Email Responses
Not every email needs a response. Some only need a quick reaction. And others, well they require something thoughtful and complete. You get to choose how to prioritize your email inbox!
One of the easiest ways to become an email management expert is to give yourself permission to make those decisions. If an email doesn’t require a response, delete or file it immediately. If it only needs a quick reaction, take the easy win and get it off your plate quickly so you can check it off your to-do list.
But for those that require more work, read them and then flag them. Make a note on your to-do list. Give yourself permission to come back to it later, after you’ve had a chance to think about your response and have the energy to respond.
Many people find it helpful to prioritize their emails on a list based on how quickly they need to respond. It’s easy if you break them down into five categories:
- Not Important
There’s no response necessary, so file or delete as appropriate.
- Easy Win
Here’s you’ll put quick simple tasks you can complete within a minute or less… Do it now so you don’t need to come back later.
These have a major impact on your goals, workload, or business, but may not need to be done according to a specific timeline. Put them on your list and chip away at them.
Have a deadline coming up? For these email tasks, timing is critical. Flag them, keep them in your main inbox so you see them whenever you log in, and put them on your list so you don’t forget. These are the messages you tackle when you can focus on the task at hand.
- Coming Soon
Not all emails are important today, but they can become so later. This is how you file those emails with projects still in the tentative stage, or messages you need to follow up on later down the line. Put these in a dedicated folder, and write them in a calendar with a date to follow up or reassess their status so you don’t forget.
On a daily average, EarthWeb reports that people receive between 100-120 emails, not including spam. That’s a lot of messages to sort through! Using these tips, you will soon feel like an expert when managing your email.