Making Email Work for You

Jun 22, 2011, by Margaux Guyonneau, Community Manager

One of the biggest problems with email in the workplace is that it is a constant. obnoxious. uncontrollable. interruption. Not to mention completely addictive. Who hasn’t heard that Outlook bing and been struck with a slight pang of anxiety? What if it’s important? Well, what if it is? On the other hand, it could be another JCrew “30% Off your online order of One Million Dollars” email.

(via ilamont)

According to TechCrunch, email and smartphones are pushing work time into play time, so much so that many people wake up in the middle of the night to check their email. Getting your email on your terms can be a huge challenge. Add to that the growing need to check other services, like Facebook and Twitter, and you could spend your whole day reading and responding without getting any other work done.

Julie Morganstern wrote a great post about breaking your addiction to email. Her three main tips were to 1) set aside a few times during the day to read and reply to emails, 2) reply and take action on emails when you read them, and 3) don’t check your email first thing in the morning. Even Mark Suster and Tim Ferriss agree.

For most people, following through with these rules is next to impossible, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find ways to cut back on the time you spend on email.

1. Divide and Conquer

A lot of the time, you can tell from the subject if an email is something you’re going to need to reply to or if it is just information. If you decide to check your email in the morning, try to click through and delete the emails that you don’t require an action. You’ll have an idea of what you’re going to need to return to later in the day, and when you come back to your email, you won’t have as much clutter in your inbox.

2. Repeat Yourself

If much of your day revolves around answering the same types of questions over and over, create a template to use for stock answers. Even shorter emails, such as a note confirming an appointment, can be saved as a template. Leaving a few blanks to fill in will allow you to drastically reduce the time you spend composing those messages.

3. Get to the Top of the List

When you’re sending an email, try to think about when the recipient is most likely to open it. If you want to be at the top of someone’s inbox on Monday, you obviously don’t want to send the message at 4pm on Friday. Schedule your emails so that you can control the time of delivery and increase your chances of getting a prompt response.

Getting your email under control is critical if you want to be productive while you’re at work. Do you have any tricks that help you manage email effectively?

Photo via comedynose

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