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3 Ruthless Email Responses to Achieve Inbox Zero

3 Ruthless Email Responses to Achieve Inbox Zero
    Take an axe to your inbox with ruthless responses.

    I’ve become an email killer.

    It’s not that I hate email, it’s that I hate email backlog. It happens to the best of us. We save emails that we can’t initially reply to yet, we hold onto emails that we want to dive into at a later date and we keep emails as a reminder of an action we have to take. The result is usually a very full inbox staring back at us as we try to get the stuff done that actually matters.

    I’m not saying that individual emails don’t matter; often they contain information or are from people that do matter. What I am saying is that email as a whole doesn’t matter. Living in your inbox dwelling with your emails is like hanging out at the post office trying to do other work while you wait for your mail to arrive. I highly doubt any of us sit by our mailbox waiting for the mailman to arrive, or leave mail unopened as reminders that we have to deal with it later. Sure, some of us open mail and dedicate time to dealing with it later but it’s a visual item. Unlike email, it isn’t as easy to bury.

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    Rather than discuss ways to get through your email or how to categorize it either through filters or some other strategy, I’m going to offer 3 email responses that will annihilate your email and get your mind out of your inbox and back onto what matters — and allow you to avoid email bankruptcy. Each response is appropriate for certain circumstances — of which there are really only three:

    1. Timely follow-up correspondence is needed.
    2. No follow-up needed.
    3. No need for it at all.

    Feel free to use these email responses so that you can push through your inbox and get on with what you need to focus on — just make sure you replace the generic text with what you need to address, as well as the appropriate salutations and signature. Save these either as a text file, as a TextExpander snippet or in Gmail as a “canned response” — or whatever works best for your setup.

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    Follow-up Email Needed

    Thank you for your email. I’m glad you reached out to contact me regarding INSERT SUBJECT HERE.

    That said, while I’m interested in what you’ve offered, my time is at a premium these days. I’ll give the matter further thought and will get back to you within the next “X” business days. If you require an answer sooner than that, simply respond to this email and give me a timetable so I can see if I can make something happen on my end.

    Again, thanks for your email and I look forward to hearing back from you shortly.

    Follow-up Email Not Needed

    Thanks for your email regarding INSERT SUBJECT HERE. I appreciate the time you’ve taken to give me a heads up on this.

    Unfortunately, it’s not something that I’m willing to take on at this time as I have other matters that require my attention.

    Again, thank you for reaching out to me and good luck with INSERT SUBJECT HERE.

    No Need to Respond

    Delete it. Now.

    (And yes, deleting an email is a response. Either to you or to the sender, depending on the subject matter.)

    Let the Ruthlessness Begin

    There’s no sense in using your email inbox as a place to manage your tasks, projects and communication. Just like you don’t leave mail piling up in your mailbox, you shouldn’t leave email piling up in your inbox. It’s impractical on so many levels, primarily to your productivity. Email responses should be dealt with in a thoughtful and efficient manner — not swept under the rug. The best way to break the habit of email hoarding is by being ruthless with your inbox.

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    Start using these responses today and you’ll find that your time in your email inbox will be lessened and your time delivering actionable results on what you really need to do will be enhanced. You’ll escape the rapture of the inbox and reap the rewards of conquering it.

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    Last Updated on February 21, 2019

    The Secret to Effective Conflict Resolution: The IBR Approach

    The Secret to Effective Conflict Resolution: The IBR Approach

    In business, in social relationships, in family… In whatever context conflict is always inevitable, especially when you are in the leader role. This role equals “make decisions for the best of majority” and the remaining are not amused. Conflicts arise.

    Conflicts arise when we want to push for a better quality work but some members want to take a break from work.

    Conflicts arise when we as citizens want more recreational facilities but the Government has to balance the needs to maintain tourism growth.

    Conflicts are literally everywhere.

    Avoiding Conflicts a No-No and Resolving Conflicts a Win-Win

    Avoiding conflicts seem to be a viable option for us. The cruel fact is, it isn’t. Conflicts won’t walk away by themselves. They will, instead, escalate and haunt you back even more when we finally realize that’s no way we can let it be.

    Moreover, avoiding conflicts will eventually intensify the misunderstanding among the involved parties. And the misunderstanding severely hinders open communication which later on the parties tend to keep things secret. This is obviously detrimental to teamwork.

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    Some may view conflicts as the last step before arguments. And they thus leave it aside as if they never happen. This is not true.

    Conflicts are the intersect point between different individuals with different opinions. And this does not necessarily lead to argument.

    Instead, proper handling of conflicts can actually result in a win-win situation – both parties are pleased and allies are gained. A better understanding between each other and future conflicts are less likely to happen.

    The IBR Approach to Resolve Conflicts

    Here, we introduce to you an effective approach to resolve conflicts – the Interest-Based Relational (IBR) approach. The IBR approach was developed by Roger Fisher and William Ury in their 1981 book Getting to Yes. It stresses the importance of the separation between people and their emotions from the problem. Another focus of the approach is to build mutual understanding and respect as they strengthen bonds among parties and can ultimately help resolve conflicts in a harmonious way. The approach suggests a 6-step procedure for conflict resolution:

    Step 1: Prioritize Good Relationships

    How? Before addressing the problem or even starting the discussion, make it clear the conflict can result in a mutual trouble and through subsequent respectful negotiation the conflict can be resolved peacefully. And that brings the best outcome to the whole team by working together.

    Why? It is easy to overlook own cause of the conflict and point the finger to the members with different opinions. With such a mindset, it is likely to blame rather than to listen to the others and fail to acknowledge the problem completely. Such a discussion manner will undermine the good relationships among the members and aggravate the problem.

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    Example: Before discussion, stress that the problem is never one’s complete fault. Everyone is responsible for it. Then, it is important to point out our own involvement in the problem and state clearly we are here to listen to everyone’s opinions rather than accusing others.

    Step 2: People Are NOT the Cause of Problem

    How? State clearly the problem is never one-sided. Collaborative effort is needed. More importantly, note the problem should not be taken personally. We are not making accusations on persons but addressing the problem itself.

    Why? Once things taken personally, everything will go out of control. People will become irrational and neglect others’ opinions. We are then unable to address the problem properly because we cannot grasp a fuller and clearer picture of the problem due to presumption.

    Example: In spite of the confronting opinions, we have to emphasize that the problem is not a result of the persons but probably the different perspectives to view it. So, if we try to look at the problem from the other’s perspective, we may understand why there are varied opinions.

    Step 3: Listen From ALL Stances

    How? Do NOT blame others. It is of utmost importance. Ask for everyone’s opinions. It is important to let everyone feel that they contribute to the discussion. Tell them their involvement is essential to solve the problem and their effort is very much appreciated.

    Why? None wants to be ignored. If one feels neglected, it is very likely for he/she to be aggressive. It is definitely not what we hope to see in a discussion. Acknowledging and being acknowledged are equally important. So, make sure everyone has equal opportunity to express their views. Also, realizing their opinions are not neglected, they will be more receptive to other opinions.

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    Example: A little trick can played here: Invite others to talk first. It is an easy way to let others feel involved and ,more importantly, know their voices are heard. Also, we can show that we are actively listening to them by giving direct eye-contact and nodding. One important to note is that never interrupt anyone. Always let them finish first beforeanother one begins.

    Step 4: Listen Comes First, Talk Follows

    How? Ensure everyone has listened to one another points of view. It can be done by taking turn to speak and leaving the discussion part at last. State once again the problem is nothing personal and no accusation should be made.

    Why? By turn-taking, everyone can finish talking and voices of all sides can be heard indiscriminantly. This can promote willingness to listen to opposing opinions.

    Example: We can prepare pieces of paper with different numbers written on them. Then, ask different members to pick one and talk according to the sequence of the number. After everyone’s finished, advise everyone to use “I” more than “You” in the discussion period to avoid others thinking that it is an accusation.

    Step 5: Understand the Facts, Then Address the Problem

    How? List out ALL the facts first. Ask everyone to tell what they know about the problems.

    Why? Sometimes your facts are unknown to the others while they may know something we don’t. Missing out on these facts could possibly lead to inaccurate capture of the problem. Also, different known facts can lead to different perception of the matter. It also helps everyone better understand the problem and can eventually help reach a solution.

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    Example: While everyone is expressing their own views, ask them to write down everything they know that is true to the problem. As soon as everyone has finished, all facts can be noted and everyone’s understanding of the problem is raised.

    Step 6: Solve the Problem Together

    How? Knowing what everyone’s thinking, it is now time to resolve the conflict. Up to this point, everyone should have understood the problem better. So, it is everyone’s time to suggest some solutions. It is important not to have one giving all the solutions.

    Why? Having everyone suggesting their solutions is important as they will not feel excluded and their opinions are considered. Besides, it may also generate more solutions that can better resolve the conflicts. Everyone will more likely be satisfied with the result.

    Example: After discussion, ask all members to suggest any possible solutions and stress that all solutions are welcomed. State clearly that we are looking for the best outcomes for everyone’s sake rather than battling to win over one another. Then, evaluate all the solutions and pick the one that is in favor of everyone.

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