If there’s one form of communication entrepreneurs and professionals can’t do without, it’s email. Unfortunately, email also lags behind other mediums in a variety of ways, which ultimately leads to unnecessary distractions and lots of wasted time. Want to increase your daily productivity and get more done? Improving your email habits should be one of the top items on your agenda.
Email: A Massive Time Waster
Email exists to provide individuals and businesses with quick and effortless written communication. However, study after study shows that it’s not always used as intended. Here are a couple of pieces of research that may surprise you:
While these may seem like absurd numbers to you, pause and think about how much time you’re spending on email each day. Even if you fall below the average, you’re still wasting far too much time with email.
Something needs to be done.
There’s no reason you should be spending four, five, or six-plus hours with email. You have far more important professional and personal obligations. With that being said, let’s take a look at some email management tips and techniques that others have found to be effective.
1 | Develop a Filing System
The very first thing you need to do is create a filing system. Every email that you receive should have a folder that it goes in. While you should create a system that works for you, many choose to use the following:
With these four folders, you can organize just about every email. As soon as an email comes in, either reply immediately or designate it to one of the folders. You’ll find that it’s much easier to stay focused and process information this way.
2 | Kill the Notifications
Here’s a controversial suggestion that not everyone agrees with, but think about turning off email notifications on your mobile devices. The reason is that these notifications tend to distract you when you’re doing other important things. Furthermore, you’re bound to open an email and forget about it. Then, when you log into your account on your computer, the email has already been opened, and you may overlook it.
3 | Cut the Fluff
Do you spend five minutes crafting an email that could be written in 30 seconds? You may need to work on your email writing skills. While it’s nice to include a cordial opening and then end with some sort of salutation, this isn’t necessary. In fact, most recipients appreciate brevity. Cut out the fluff and just deliver the facts. (Bullet point format is easy for people to digest quickly.)
4 | Create Templates
If you get a lot of the same emails over and over again – such as requests for guest blogging opportunities or frequent customer service questions – developing a handful of email templates can save you hours of time. Simply paste the template in, customize it to the sender, and you’re good to go.
[*TMM Tip: Check out Systems Rock for FREE templates to keep your business flowing smoothly!]
5 | Separate Work and Personal
If you have one email account for everything – work and personal life – then you know how frustrating this can be. When you’re working, you’ll inevitably get an email from a friend and may end up wasting an hour of your time. When it’s the weekend, and you’re trying to enjoy time with family, you’re bound to see some stressful email that will ruin your day. But have you ever paused to consider why you use the same account?
Email accounts are free and easy to sign up for. There’s no excuse for not having separate work and personal email accounts. Create some separation, and you’ll be much more productive.
6 | Purge Your Subscriptions
Over the years, you’ve signed up for dozens of different email lists and newsletters. How many of them do you actually read? Find a way to unsubscribe from lists, and you’ll feel that sense of relief and satisfaction that comes after you clean out an old closet or junk drawer.
Not sure how to get started? One of the coolest tools is Unroll.me. It allows you to organize the subscriptions you like into a single daily email, while simultaneously identifying the ones you don’t like and unsubscribing for you.
7 | Try an Email Alternative
Finally, who says email is the best choice? With all of the distractions and clutter that are present in your inbox, you could benefit from using an email alternative. There are some popular ones on the market, but Slack seems to be everyone’s favorite. The streamlined interface allows you to send direct messages to individuals and groups without the hassle of attachments, bulky features, and spam. Game changer for sure!
Reclaim Your Productivity
Are you ready to slash your email time in half and start reclaiming productivity? Imagine how much work you could get done if you spent more time on core business activities and less time deciding who to CC on your latest message.
Try it for a couple of weeks and see what you think. You’ll never go back to your previous habits!