We here at The Methodology Blog are always on the lookout for more tips on how to improve productivity. Especially when it comes to email!
There are always more ways to be productive where your inbox is concerned. In fact, we have written a lot about and the topic of email overload and ways to improve email productivity in the past. So when we came across this Huffington Post article suggesting ideas on how to manage your inbox, of course we were all over it. Writer David Finkel’s recommendations are pretty on point. Check them out below and some of our thoughts as well!
1. Email is addictive – avoid that first temptation to check.
It’s almost like a drug. The best thing to do is to not even scan your email. Just avoid looking until you have set chunks of time aside to peruse. Otherwise, you’ll definitely end up getting sucked in and you’ll find hours have inexplicably passed.
2. Set firm email boundaries and respect them.
Interruptions can be the downfall of focus. Hearing that little chime that you have a new message is definitely a concentration blocker. Try to have times where you close out your inbox. Finkel has a method:
“For me, every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday I refrain from checking email until at least 11am, giving me a solid 2-3 hours to get much higher value work done.”
3. Understand that every time you do that one “quick” email, that interruption radically diminishes your concentration and flow on the other, higher value work you were doing.
4. Leverage your staff (e.g. personal assistant, etc.) to screen your email.
If you have members on your team or an assistant that can screen your messages, definitely consider this option.
5. Turn off your auto send-and-receive function (or at least reduce the frequency it downloads new email).
This is a pretty helpful tip. Finkel states:
“One business coaching client shared that this one tip alone increased his annual income by over $100,000 per year.”
6. To get less e-mail, send less. The more you send, the more you get.
It’s a pretty simple thought process when you think about it.
7. To get less email, age your email before you reply.
You have to take the time to read and take time to mentally process how you’re going to respond. Unless there is a super important email that needs to be responded to, try to put responding on the back burner. Wait a day or a week!
8. If you’re involved in a frustrating back-and-forth conversation by email due to hazy understanding on either side, just pick up the phone or speak in person.
Emails can sometimes seem to run on and on. It seems like you’re getting absolutely nothing accomplished in the process. This is when it can be a good idea to just pick up the phone and settle it.
9. In replying to a long conversation thread, pull up the key information to the top of the email.
Pulling the most pertinent information to the top of the email is a great way to make these long emails less painful to read through. Bullet or number the important things and bring them to the very top.
10. Don’t use email to manage your “tasks” or to manage your team’s tasks.
Having a to-do list is a really good idea, just don’t use your email to do it.
11. Learn your top five email recipients’ preferences.
If you find out what your team members prefer, then you can easily figure out what you need to bother CC’ing them on. Talk to each other to find out how to cut down on time by communicating better.
12. Use powerful subject lines to streamline the time it takes for your team to process and find email.
This is a pretty fantastic idea. Rather than some bland subject line, try to instigate using bold titles that make it clear as to what the email is about. Get your whole team in on it. Then you’ll be able to pick and choose the important ones that require immediate attention.