This is a topic which I have researched over many years and I could say now, I have arrived at a place, where I am managing my mailboxes effectively and would love to share my top 5 tips with you.
Tip 1 — Consider reading emails as a separate task.
Allocate time in your day specifically for reading the emails, consider this as a separate task. Based on the nature of your work you can choose how you allocate that time. Let’s say if you work on a non-critical project and if it is fine to respond back to your emails within a few hours then this approach would work.
[Assuming you work in a 9 to 5 job]
Check your emails for the first 15–30 mins, before you start your work
and 15 mins — 30 Mins before your Lunch
15–30mins — Before you end the day.
If you work in a dynamic environment where everything is urgent but could afford to respond within an hour, then use the first 5–10 minutes of every hour to check your mailbox.
If you work on supercritical projects then you have no choice but to read every email as and when it arrives.
Tip 2 — Quick Responses
If an email requires less than 2–5 mins to respond, do it as soon as you read it.
If the email requires 10 mins to an hour to respond. You should still respond to the email mentioning that you would need so much time to complete the associated task and you would respond to it by so and so time. Acknowledging the email is very important.
Tip 3 — Create Inbox Rules
Over the period of time, if you have recognized the pattern of the emails which usually do not require immediate attention, like daily newsletters, then create a rule for them and automatically put them into a separate folder which you can check later. Ensure to check them when your high priority work is complete.
Tip 4 — Archive the unread emails which are older than 2 months
If your mailbox is already full with thousands of emails, I would suggest that just archive (don’t delete) all your emails that are older than 2 months. It’s most likely that they are not important. If there is anything important, the sender may email you once again.
Tips 5 — Keep notifications ON
This is something most productivity gurus do not suggest, but I have found these notifications to be super helpful. I believe, Humans have evolved to live with notifications by now! It just appears in the corner of the screen, you can easily check who sent and also the subject of the email. If there is an email from your Boss or Client you can quickly check that out and see if it is something that requires your immediate attention/action. If not, you can continue your work!
So these are the top 5 tips that have helped me to keep myself on top of emails.
Do let me know which of these 5 tips you would apply and also share if you have any of your tips in the comments below. I would love to know them!