People seem to find a lot of ways to sort and slash when it comes to email. Batching emails and answering them all together,turning off notifications, focusing on big projects during the day: they're all tried-and-true ways to generally be more productive. We've seen them, we've tried them, and they work. (Sometimes.) Still, it's hard to avoid getting bogged down with email, especially when your phone is buzzing, your computer is dinging, and your co-workers are waiting on your response. Last week, Scott Britton shared some of his favorite and most creative lifehacks, among them some that actually help him actually achieve a better email workflow. We've shared some of them below – enjoy!
Step. Away. From. The. Inbox.
Bookmark pages you access through email
If you're using your mail to access your calendar and your documents, create bookmarks for the pages you normally have to go through your mail to access. That will keep you out of your inbox until the time you've designated to look at your mail.
Download a Chat Client
Using a chat client solves two problems. First, it keeps you out of your inbox so that you can batch your email response. Second, using chat encourages you to send those quick questions faster – freeing you and your colleague from another “quick question” email. Many businesses choose to use internal chat clients that save your chat history, like HipChat, so that you can reference them later if you need.
Use What You've Got
Learn Keyboard Shortcuts
Does it really take that long to move your mouse and click on “New Message?” No, it doesn't. But why not do it faster? Data analysts learn all the excel shortcuts in the book; they want to do their job as quickly and efficiently as possible. If you're using email as a major part of your job, why not find a faster way to do it? Google has a bunch of keyboard shortcuts that you can learn, and you can even customize your own shortcuts in your email settings.
Use Filters Effectively
All email clients offer filters. Use them. In every way possible. For your personal email, a tool like Other Inbox is great – you'll keep the junk out of your inbox, without losing a single bill notification. For all other emails, you can sort by sender, message, or subject to organize them before you even see them. Not only will it cut out steps for you, but it will also help you batch your email, since you'll be able to move through similar emails all at once, rather than jumping around to different subjects.
Create Templated Responses
Every time you're answering an email that you think you've typed before, create a template from it. The next time you're answering a similar email, you'll just need a few clicks to send a thoughtful response. Plus, templated emails ensure you don't forget anything if you're in a rush.
Use Rapportive to Get In Touch
If you're not already using Rapportive for Gmail, you should be, because it's seriously awesome. When Rapportive reads an email address, it searches that address across all social media sites, and pulls the most recent posts into a sidebar instead of ads. If you don't know someone's email address, you can try to guess the email address from various first and last name combinations, and once you guess their email correctly, Rapportive will show their picture and LinkedIn information. Rapportive is also great if you're not the best at connecting names and faces. Each time you email someone, you'll see their picture right next to their name. It's like having little flashcards in your inbox!
Don't Send an Email Unless it Needs a Response
Want a better response rate on your emails? Make sure that every email you send has weight. Remember the little boy who emailed wolf? If you're constantly sending a little note here or there, it creates work for the other person, and if your messages don't have a certain degree of urgency, you're probably getting pushed down the priority list. If you have a message that doesn't require a response, think of more creative way to send it. Birthday wishes? Thank you note? Try sending a card! You'll stand out, and they'll be happy to avoid another message in their inbox. Have any other tips you use? Share them in the comments below!