Advertising
Advertising

The Lost Art of Emailing: How Emailing Can Make Us More Productive and Efficient Again

The Lost Art of Emailing: How Emailing Can Make Us More Productive and Efficient Again

Are you one of those people who see email as an annoyance and not a productivity tool? Do you see email as a barrier to getting things done? Then you are certainly not alone. Millions of people have grown to hate email because it piles up in a never-ending stream of messages, beeps and alerts. I see so many people with the alert bubble on their email app showing four figures. These people have simply given up on email and only respond to the emails they receive from their boss or most important customers. Instead they are turning to other communication tools such as Slack and Twist and quickly finding that rather than solving their problems, these apps just exasperates the

Why People Stop Using Email

The problem for most people is they have not learned how to manage their email, or if they do know how to manage their email, they do not practice those management methods on a daily basis. And like anything else, if you are not managing it, it soon descends into an unmanageable mess.

Advertising

Yet, email should never be seen in this way. Email is simply the best communications technology created in the last forty years or so. It allows us to communicate effortlessly with people on the other side of the world, it is real time and has allowed us the opportunity to be able to work from anywhere at any time. Email is quite possibly the best productivity tool there is.

How To Use Emails To Become More Productive Again

So, in the spirit of bringing email back into your life as a fundamental productivity tool you love using, here are five tips to get email working for you.

Advertising

1. Treat Your Inbox As a Collection Point

Your inbox is not a storage box. Your inbox is a place where new email is collected and then processed. In the days before email, when we received mail, we did not just look at the envelope, decide it was not important and stuff in back in the mailbox. We moved it somewhere. Our desk, the trash can or on the mantlepiece to be dealt with later. If you had stuffed the mail back into your mailbox, the mailman would have thought you rather weird. So don’t do that with email. When an email comes in, decide what needs to be done with it and move it to its appropriate place. Over time, you will get better at making these decisions and will soon find dealing with email is a breeze.

2. Set up a few basic folders

The emails we receive every day fall into a few very clear categories. There are emails that require you to do something, emails containing information, which requires no action from yourself except just read them sometime, and update emails that contain information you need to know about but need no action from yourself. So, the only folders you need are: “Action Today”, “Reference” and “Archive”. That’s it. Just three folders and you will have a place to put all your email and keep your inbox clean.

Advertising

3. Process them instead of just checking

Problems with email inboxes mount up when you ‘check’ email and not process it. Checking email is where most of the problems build up. If you look at an email in your inbox and do nothing with it, then your email problems will quickly mount up. Instead, when you go into your inbox, make a decision on each email about what it is and then move it to the right folder. If you need to do something with it, either do it right away and archive the email or if you do not have time, move it to your Action Today folder. It only takes a second or two to move an email, so get into the habit right now. Checking email means you are looking at an email and not making decisions about that email. That is such a waste of time. Look at the email once, make a decision what needs doing with the email to remove it from your inbox and do it.

4. Set up a separate email account for online purchases and promotions

Part of the reason we get so many emails is we happily give out our email address to anyone who asks for it. You wouldn’t give you private home address to any stranger who asks for it, so why do so many people give their email addresses out so readily? Instead, set up a webmail account with Gmail, Outlook or other company and use that for your online purchases, subscriptions and other stuff that requires an email address.

Advertising

Do not put this email address in your email app. I have an email address I only access through the web. It is not connected to my phone’s email app, nor is it connected to my computer’s email app. If I want to see what is in there, I log in via the web and check it. The only time I ever really check it is when I am waiting for a delivery, and once a week to read through the newsletters I subscribe to. For many people, this single trick will remove 50% of the email coming into their inboxes every day.

5. Write for the reader, not yourself

One reason so many people are constantly checking emails is they are waiting for a reply to an email. If you want a quick reply then you need to make it easy for the recipient to respond with the correct information. The structure for getting information quickly is “what and why”. When writing your email start with what you want — “Hi Nicola, could you send me a copy of last quarter’s sales figures?” — and, if necessary, in the next paragraph say why — “we need to finalise Q3’s accounts before the end of the month…” — What this does is allows the receiver to see exactly what you want from their notification screen and can quickly make a decision about responding to you. If you begin your email with a preamble about how good a weekend you had, and when you hope to see the recipient, your email is going to be at the bottom of the recipient’s priority list. Remember: what do you want? And why do you want it?

By adopting these five simple tips, your relationship with email will change forever. You will quickly stop hating email, and your love affair will blossom again. Email will become a fountain of productivity and energy. You will know what needs doing and you will never miss an important email again.

Email is not the problem, it is how we manage email that is the problem. By taking a few simple steps to organise our email, we can focus less on creating an email mountain and more on the joys and wonder of email.

More by this author

Carl Pullein

Dedicated to helping people to achieve their maximum potential through better time management and productivity.

How to Use Deliberate Practice to Be Good at Almost Anything The Pros and Cons of Working from Home How to Learn Effectively in the Age of Digital Distraction How to Become a Morning Person: 8 Steps to Kickstart How Mind Mapping Helps You to Brainstorm More Great Ideas

Trending in Productivity

1 9 Steps to Disconnect from Social Media and Connect With Life Again 2 How to Commit, Achieve Excellence And Change Your Life 3 8 Steps to Continuous Self Motivation Even During the Difficult Times 4 10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track in 2020 5 14 Books About Building Better Habits That Will Change Your Life

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on October 6, 2020

9 Steps to Disconnect from Social Media and Connect With Life Again

9 Steps to Disconnect from Social Media and Connect With Life Again

The world has never been more connected. No matter where in the world you are, you can send a message to anyone in another part of the world as long as you both have internet connection. In fact, Aussies living in the Outback will soon have access to the internet comparable to their city-dwelling counterparts. The internet not only breaks distance barriers, but also social barriers. A regular person, like you or me, can now tweet our favorite authors, athletes, and other famous personalities! Sometimes, they even respond.

But sometimes, you may get lost in your online life that you forget to live your real life. You may focus on being more connected only to end up being disconnected with the real world. How is social media ruining your life? Watch this video to find out:

Sometimes, you need to take a step back, disconnect from social media and connect with life once again. Here are nine ways you do so:

1. Eliminate Gadgets for One Hour Before Sleep and After Wake Up

You should spend the first hour of your day setting your own plans and agenda. You should be proactive in setting the direction of your day, not reactive. This way, you can determine how you want your whole day to go, not simply reacting to how other people want you to spend your day. During the first hour of your day, you can pray, meditate, connect with yourself, set your to-dos, and set your goals.

Advertising

You should also spend the last hour of your day preparing to rest–your body and your mind. If you check your social media profile before going to bed, your mind will not get the rest it deserves as you will fill your mind with your friends’ updates on their news feeds, which do not necessarily make your life any better in any way or give you rest.

2. Turn Off All Your Push Notifications

It does not only save your battery life, it also saves you from a lot of distractions. Turn off all your push notifications from email, chat, and social media applications. In case of really urgent matters, people will give you a call.

Success is about momentum. How can you gain momentum when notifications keep distracting you?

3. Keep your phone in a drawer while you’re working.

Sometimes, merely seeing your phone can distract you whether or not your notifications have been turned off. So, why not take the extra mile and completely hide it away from your sight given you can still hear urgent phone calls?

Advertising

Again, it’s all about building momentum.

4. Use Only One Device for Checking Social Media

Facebook on your desktop, on your laptop, on your smartphone, and, now, even on your Apple Watch? That’s great! For Facebook that is. But, not for your focus and productivity. The more devices you have that can log in to your social media profiles, the more distractions you have to avoid.

Of course, you still have to be connected online. But, use only one device to do so. This will help you condition your mind (and discipline yourself) that your gadgets are your tools for doing more important things than aimlessly scrolling down your news feed.

5. Give Yourself 30 Minutes to Stay Connected

Yes, you still have to log in! Being connected through social media is really a must in this technology-driven world. But, set a time limit for it. Otherwise, you will only waste hours each day. Give yourself thirty minutes (an hour at most) each day to respond to text messages, check notifications, accept friend requests, and respond to comments. I know you still want to. Unless, of course, you’re a social media manager. That’s a different story.

Advertising

In case you cannot discipline yourself to stop logging in to social media, you can use browser extensions like StayFocusd for Google Chrome to limit the time you spend on them.

6. Allot One Hour of Your Day to Respond to Emails

In this increasingly online world, email still remains the most personal way of online communication. This is where the most important engagements still happen online. Other social media like Friendster and Multiply have come and gone, but email still remains. That’s why you can spend another hour each day checking and responding to your emails.

7. Subscribe to Your Favorite Websites via RSS or Email

Most of us rely on social media as well to get updates on our favorite blogs and website. But, social media are full of distractions. Instead, be proactive in getting updates as well. Subscribe via RSS or email to make sure that the only updates you receive are the updates you really want to receive.

Don’t have an RSS reader? Try Feedly. Using RSS readers may be a bit confusing at first, but once you get the hang of it, it will save you from a lot of distractions. But, it can also get addicting. So schedule catching up on your RSS reader as well!

Advertising

8. Use Third Party Applications to Post on Social Media

In case you really need to post updates, use third party applications such as Hootsuite and Buffer. That way, you can avoid logging in to your social media accounts and getting distracted by your news feed and notifications. Because once you’ve logged in, it’s difficult to log out! You don’t fight temptation, you avoid it!

9. Live a Real Life

Most importantly, live a real life, interact with real people, and be awesome in the real world! Don’t stress yourself making your profile wonderful. Live an awesome life and it will automatically follow!

Do exciting stuff. Write a book. Plan a trip. Whatever. Just be awesome!

Most importantly, live a life that matters and you don’t have to get your satisfaction and fulfillment from likes and shares ever again!

How About You?

What do you do to disconnect from social media and connect with your life once again?

Featured photo credit: Singularity University NL: Man versus Machine – Biology versus Technology by Sebastiaan ter Burg via imcreator.com

Read Next