Email: 5 tips to defeat your full inbox

How many hours do you spend on responding to email each day? When I logged in to my email account for the first time after my holiday I got really dizzy: my inbox was packed to the gunnels and I did not know where to start. Desperatly I consulted Google for advice on how to manage my mail efficiently. To my surprise, I found some tips that changed my mailing behaviour dramatically. Not only, that I can empty my mailbox much faster, but also I get less mail into my inbox. Here, I want to share some of these tips with you.

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Get rid of the spam

More than half of all my mails were useless or at least dispensable. They caused chaos in my inbox and checking them cost me more time then I’d like to admit. Don’t let this trash mail enter you inbox. Turn off all the notifications from your social media channels. During the coffee break you will check them anyway. Check your newsletter subscriptions carefully and unsubscribe to everything you have not read the last three months (except for my newsletter of course ;-)).

Filter incoming mail

Most email programs offer the opportunity to apply filters to your mail.If you regularly get mail that does not require reponse and can be read later, add a filter to this mail like ‘Read later’ for instance. Next time you receive a message of that kind your email progran will filter it out of your inbox immediately.

Schedule your email time

Choose a set time to check and respond to your email. How about 30 minutes in the morning and another 30 at the end of the day? You will be surprised how many mails you can process when you stay focused. When time is up, close your email program and turn off the notifications! I know you can feel a little guilty about that in the beginning but that is not necessary. It is very unlikely that someone who needs your help asap will email you.

Write plain and short responses

The maximum of an email is five sentences. If that is not enough you can better make phone call. You should also avoid using email as an instant messenger by asking open questions like “When can we meet?”. This will only lead to email pingpong. Better, you aim for a yes/no response: “I’m available Tuesday and Wednesday from 10 to 12pm. Does one of these dates suite you?” End conversation.

Find alternative modes of communication

Who says that email is the only way to communicate at the office? There are far more efficient solutions. When you have a question for your colleagues, just go and see them. If you need to contact a client, give him a call. If you prefer these modes of communication other people will also use them to contact you.

What’s your tip?

These are my personal favourites for managing email more efficiently. Is there anything you would like to add? How do you prevent a full inbox? I would love to know.

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