Do you remember the days when it was exciting to receive emails? We used to love getting emails so much that we even made movies about it, who could forget the 1998 romantic comedy staring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan called You’ve Got Mail.
Today, I’m willing to bet you aren’t as enthusiastic about getting emails. In fact, I bet most of you spend a majority of your working day reading and responding to emails. Constantly digging and digging to break free of what many refer to as “email jail." Oh the insanity!
Email is dying a slow death as the emerging generations consider it passé and are using alternatives to email. Many universities no longer provide email addresses to their incoming students. Nonetheless, email is still an important tool in our communications toolbox. In fact, Harvard Business Review estimates that the average worker receives 11,680 emails a year. So until we can lay email to rest for good, here are some tips to help you manage the insanity.
6 Email Hacks To Make You More Productive
1) Batch email time. If you don’t respond to an email immediately, the world won’t end. I promise. Schedule specific times to check your email. Having email open all day is a sure-fire way not to complete your most important tasks. Hide, close or click “work offline” (for Outlook folks) to ensure the phantom pop-up messages or the bold number indicating unread emails do not tempt you to get off track. Scheduling 3 times a day (late morning, early afternoon and evening) to check email is a good start.
2) Tackle your priorities first. 90% of the emails in your inbox are trying to get you to do something, to fulfill someone else’s agenda and not yours. If you’re not intentional about tackling your own goals and to-dos, you will only complete the agenda of others. At the end of the day list your 2-3 priorities for the following day so that before opening email the next morning (that's before getting out of bed for Millennials) you can focus on the emails that relate to your 2-3 priorities. Once completed, then move on to other emails.
3) Make it pull not push. Being alerted every time a new email arrives is foolish unless you love being controlled by cyber-mail. In order to guard your productive time, ensure email is only updated when you go retrieve it (pull) vs getting mobile notifications or phantom pop-ups or “ding” sounds (push) whenever someone else needs you to do something.
4) Respond clear and concise. With SMS text messaging on the rise, why do we still write 300 word emails? Lead with the core message or ask. Keep your emails as concise as possible. If you want to get extreme, commit to the two sentences personal policy.
5) Touch once. Looking at the same email more than once is wasted time and energy. Don’t open or view email unless you have ample time and are at a place ready to respond. Read an email and then respond, act on it's content, or file for a later reply once you have all the appropriate information. Hack #6 can help you file emails for later replying.
6) Install Boomerang. For Gmail users only. This is my favorite hack! Boomerang lets you take control of when you send and receive email messages in Chrome/Firefox/Safari. This tool has worked wonders for my business. I strongly suggest implementing this tool. Boomerang allows you to…
- Schedule emails to be sent at a specific future date and time.
- Set follow up reminders. Boomerang emails back into your inbox at the right time to take action.
- Response reminders. Have sent emails boomerang back into your inbox at a set time if there is no response. Having my email boomerang back if I do not receive a response on a proposal or client inquiry has saved me unreal amounts of time! Best feature ever!
- Track email clicks, read receipts and responses via a Boomerang account page.
Boomerang is free for up to 10 messages per month and then $4.99/mo for unlimited messages. I’m not an affiliate for Boomerang - just a fan! Click here to install Boomerang. Click here to view a video tutorial. Don’t let email bully you. Hack back.
Question: What else helps you manage email?