Stop fearing your inbox
Email has opened up an entirely new world for business communication since it was first introduced more than 40 years ago. According to Hubspot, 28 percent (!) of the workweek is spent reading and responding to emails. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed as that “unread” email count keeps climbing, so we’ve compiled a few ways to stay organized and in control beyond the basics of folders and labeling.
Disclaimer: Koroberi uses Gmail, so some of these tips are based on our experience with this email service. For you Outlook users, good luck.
Method 1: Batch your time
We waste a lot of time ‘watching’ our email in an effort to be available 24/7. This need to respond to something right away is actually counterproductive, allowing for distractions and interrupting trains of thought. Unless you receive the dreaded all-caps ‘URGENT’ email, chances are checking in with your inbox every two hours or so is sufficient. Use the time in between to complete tasks.
The Mail Timer add-on for Gmail is a great tool to help provide structure and routine to email maintenance. It lets you decide how long you want to spend going through your inbox, and when time is up, it will ask you to move on via a pop-up. This is a lifesaver for those of us who get easily preoccupied with email.
Method 2: Unsubscribe!
I know what you’re thinking… duh. But it’s amazing how much time we waste simply deleting emails we receive from organizations that we consistently never open. Dedicate one to two weeks of opening these email offenders and deciding if it’s worth staying on their distribution list. If you have no interest in the content, the offer or the company, unsubscribe. Stop wasting your time and souring their metrics!
Does manually unsubscribing sound like a pain? Well, there’s an app for that! Unroll.me scans your inbox to find how many subscriptions you have, then gives the option to either unsubscribe or consolidate the emails into a daily digest email called a “Rollup.”
Method 3: Schedule without back-and-forth emails
We sometimes unintentionally create duplicate work for ourselves… like with scheduling meetings. Calendar apps let you add a note or propose a new suggested meeting time; eliminating unnecessary “when are you available?” emails by including communication directly in the invite. There are also very helpful scheduling tools that allow coworkers, clients and prospects to see your availability over a specific duration of time and select a slot that works best for them.
Method 4: Utilize search
With the thousands of emails archived in your inbox, panic can set in when you’re asked to find a past project, invoice or deliverable. Have no fear, just use your search filters! While folders and labels are great, we’ve found the quickest and easiest way to locate a past email is to utilize your email platform’s ability to quickly catalog and locate.
Some examples of search filters:
- Date range –show me emails within [day, week, month] of [date]
- From – do you remember the specific contact of organization the email came from?
- Has the words… – buzz words from that project can help track an email down
- Has attachment – if you’re looking for an attachment, make sure this filter is turned on. It will weed out all the fluff.
- File size – was this a massive deliverable? Specify minimum size requirements.
Method 5: Take advantage of project management software notifications
Enable automatic emails for your project management tools. The majority of PM platforms will at a minimum provide a “daily digest” email of movement on projects each day. This gives you visibility into your team’s projects and saves you the dreaded “Circling back… what’s the status of this project?” email. These easy-to-skim emails will save you time and keep you informed.
Take the efficiency of PM platforms a step further by granting clients access, reducing email chains significantly. This is an especially wise move for clients with a lot of smaller, task-oriented projects. They’ll thank you for eliminating the inbox clutter.
Utilize these tips and watch your productivity soar while your inbox shrinks!