You might still hear reports that email is dead but I’m pretty sure you realise this isn’t true. Email can be a blessing or a curse at times but it’s still flexible, instant and convenient. In fact it’s still the most popular way for business people to communicate. But this constant communication can get in the way of productivity and of work/life balance – who doesn’t check their email 20 times a day or look at their work email at least once when on holiday?
Here’s how to take back your inbox:
Everything in its place
This might take some time upfront, but it’s worth it! You don’t leave unfilled paper lying around all over the office, piled up in random places and left under other documents, so why do it with your email? Build a filing structure in your email system and then make sure you file things away. Not only will it be easy to refer back to and save you time but it will also mean that your inbox is clear for when important items come in that mustn’t be missed, discarded or forgotten about.
Case in point, if you have a Virtual Office Scan Package with the Hoxton Mix, we’ll send you an email with scans of your physical mail each time we receive some post for you. The last thing you want is to miss out on some important physical mail because your electronic mail is in a jumble! And don’t forget also, you can automate where those emails go. If you don’t need to see certain emails in your inbox set a filter to automatically put it straight in its relevant folder. Then anything that’s important will be readily viewable at the top of your inbox.
Hide your subscriptions
Do you know how many email lists you are subscribed to? As of writing, this author has over 900 subscriptions in his list but they don’t end up in his inbox. Instead, think about applying filters (really easy in Google Mail). Set up a “Subscriptions” folder that they go directly into, then you can review them in your own time and there’s no confusion in your inbox between what’s important and what’s not.
Another great service for doing this and helping you manage subscriptions is Unroll.me – you get one email a day with a summary of all your subscriptions for that day at, a time of your choosing. Hopefully it goes without saying that you still need to review your subscriptions and get rid of all the ones you don’t need… be ruthless!
Chat don’t email
Although email isn’t dead, it certainly isn’t the right tool for some jobs, so don’t treat email as a direct messaging service. Managing and discussing projects with a team internally would be much better served by some of the newcomers to messaging, like Slack or Telegram. These platforms have moved on a long way from services like MSN messenger and Skype. Telegram provides secure encrypted chat and Slack provides a place where teams can discuss multiple projects, all without the need to send a single email.
If you’re interested in finding out more about the kind of tools that can help you communicate with your team better, have a look at our article on tools for remote working here.
Protect your time
Managing your email is a lot about reducing interruptions, so a great way to take control of your email is to allocate specific times for checking and responding. This means you move away from a reactive approach to email and start to define when a time to respond is right for you. Set aside a specific time period each morning, afternoon and evening and stick to it. Make sure you switch off notifications so you aren’t interrupted outside of those times. Ultimately if it’s urgent, they’ll call you or message you directly!