Are you a slave to your email? According to a report from the McKinsey Global Institute in 2012, the average employee spends 2.6 hours every day on email—that’s equivalent to 28% of your work day. Yikes! What we once praised as an efficient method of communication is now a big, fat time-waster for most of us. It’s easy to get caught in the email trap but with some discipline and practice, you can control your email time without feeling like you are forever swimming in unanswered mail.
Here are 10 tips to help you tame the email beast:
1. Do Not Check Email First Thing in the Morning
Resist the temptation and urge to make checking your email the first thing you do each day. Instead, focus your morning energies on other important tasks. Your email isn’t going anywhere.
2. Accept that Email is NOT the Most Important Thing to Your Day
It might feel like it at times but email is truly NOT the most important thing in your day. The sooner you accept this, the less pressure you will feel over checking your email.
3. Learn to Work Offline
If you work at a computer for all or part of your day, you can benefit from learning to work offline. I often “unplug” from the always-on WiFi and work offline for an hour or two before hopping back online to take a break and check messages. This allows you to be more productive without the distractions of the Internet.
4. Create Specific Times of the Day for Checking Your Email
Work checking and processing email into your daily schedule with 3-5 specific times of day to check and process your emails. This prevents you from worrying that you might be missing something, since you know you will be checking it later. Your mind can then focus on other things and you won’t be constantly distracted by checking emails that continue to trickle in.
5. Process Email More Efficiently
During these times that you delegate to processing emails, work a system to get through them more quickly. If you cannot reply to something in just a couple of minutes, file it away for later. Practice trying to email no more than 5 lines. Keep it concise.
6. Create and Use a Folder System
Organize your emails with a folder system. There are many different ways to do this and there really is no “right” or “wrong” way. You need to find a method that works for you and then stick to it.
7. Register for Unroll.me
If you’re using Gmail, Yahoo or Outlook email services, you can register for Unroll.me which is very useful in getting rid of those subscriptions you probably forgot you had. This will greatly reduce the number of emails you get each day that you honestly do not need.
8. Turn Off Email Alerts
As mentioned before, you don’t need to check email every single time a new mail comes in. Turning off your email alerts will help you avoid the temptation to do so. Don’t forget to turn them off of your phone, too.
9. Don’t Respond to Emails on Impulse
While this sounds like a given, there are a multitude of reasons for not responding to your emails on impulse. Take time to process your thoughts and think about what you want to say before shooting off a quick response.
10. Give Yourself an Email Holiday
Sometimes you just need to get away from the inbox and get some things done. If you work in a professional field where it is very important for people to be able to reach you, consider scheduling an email holiday, turning on your autoresponder and letting it catch those emails until later.
Do you have any email management tips to add?