If you feel like you spend half your day processing emails instead of actually working, you aren’t alone. Dealing with virtual mountains of email is a modern challenge. Filters and folders can help with organization, but even then being constantly inundated by mail is a superhighway to overwhelm. This month, we’re address emails and how to take your daily chaos to the controlled communication platform it was designed to be.
Marsha Egan, C.E.O. of InboxDetox.com and author of “Inbox Detox and the Habit of Email Excellence,” says that a full inbox is “an immediate source of stress—it reminds you of everything you’re not going to get done.” According to Egan, the average worker receives 100 to 200 emails per day. Even if you only spend a minute addressing each one, that’s two to three hours on email alone.
Forbes published an article, featuring Egan, that offers 5 no-nonsense strategies to take control of your Inbox:
- Turn Off Notifications
- Choose When You Check In
- Don’t Default to Email
- Sort Your Messages
- Resist Your Inbox on the Run
In addition, we’ve got some proven strategies of our own:
- Don’t use email for project communications, especially group emails where “reply all” can become a runaway train. Instead, opt for a platform that is designed both for collaboration and to streamline group communications.Consider free platforms like Google Drive and Google Forms – or paid options like Slack or Basecamp. Once you find the right fit for your needs, you’ll be amazed at how much more time you have when you’re not inundated by group/project emails. Read what Matt Mullenweg, the creator of WordPress and CEO of Automattic, has to say about giving up emails has done for him and his billion-dollar company.
- Get cutthroat with emails. Take 10-15 minutes twice each day to take action or or toss it in the trash. Of the emails you’ve flagged as “important” or “follow up” or even the red flag “DO NOW,” how many do you effectively come back to? Our bet is, not many.
- Once each month, de-clutter by unsubscribing for newsletters and listservs. Let’s face it. We all want to stay connected to every conversation in our industry as well as topics of personal interest. But there just isn’t enough time in the day to read through all those newsletters and blog post notifications. Instead, make a note of those you enjoy. Put it on your calendar or set a notification on your phone as a reminder. Take 10 minutes and visit the source (rather than having them come to you). If you miss anyone, you can always subscribe again. If you’re not missing anyone, you’ve done yourself a huge service by thinning out the clutter you were never going to get to anyway.
- Lastly, avoid the temptation to forward your personal email(s) and work email(s) to one account. This is a surefire way to end with with thousands of unopened emails in multiple inboxes.
EXHALE, feel that? That’s the feeling of regaining control of both your email and your day.