An estimated 205 billion emails are sent and received every day. That's around 2.4 million emails per second. And each and every one sent or received can eat into your working day.
So, with this is mind, how well do you cope with your own inbox? Do you have hundreds or thousands of unread emails and you don't know where to start?
With email traffic expected to keep rising for businesses and consumers, it's vital that we take action to improve our email management skills.
10 tips to help you stay on top of your emails:
- Scan and delete unnecessary emails first - carry out a quick scan of your email and delete all unnecessary email immediately (e.g. circulars, auto-replies, etc) without opening them. If you've made a mistake, you can always retrieve them from 'Trash' later.
- Turn off notifications - unless it's absolutely essential for your job. Email alerts can be incredibly distracting and interrupt your concentration.
- Send less to receive less - it's a simple rule but people who send less generally receive less emails too. You can significantly cut down the volume of email you receive by doing this.
- Keep your inbox clear by using folders - having an overflowing inbox is distracting. Use folders to sort and organise emails. This makes it easier to find them again and you can also purge unwanted messages quickly.
- Use 'Star' or 'Mark as unread' - if you're concerned about missing vital emails, simply star them or mark them as unread - ready to action later when you've more time. To do this, hover over your email, right-click and then choose 'Star' or 'Mark as unread'. (You can also search for all starred messages later.)
- Be brief - keep your writing short, clear and to the point in all emails. Avoid lengthy sentences or anything which may be misunderstood.
- Log out of email where intense focus is required - time can be wasted if you obsessively check email. If you're doing something which requires intense focus (e.g. writing a report, preparing a presentation, etc), log out of email completely. (Set an auto-reply which just goes to your team if you're worried about missing anything!)
- Agree protocols with your colleagues in advance - it can cut down unnecessary traffic if you decide in advance things like when to send emails and when not to, what times to send (e.g. rules on unsocial hours), appropriate language and jargon, whether acknowledgements are required etc
- Only share information on a 'need to know' basis - avoid sending mass communications or circulars to entire groups. This is a win:win as it makes everyone more productive and promotes information security too.
- Know when to pick up the phone instead - not everything is appropriate for email. If you're discussing sensitive or nuanced subjects, giving feedback, or have topics requiring discussion or final agreement, then it's often best to pick up the phone instead.
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