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Five Simple Yet Effective Tips for Managing Your Email

Five Simple Yet Effective Tips for Managing Your Email


    Everyone nowadays gets way too many emails and spends too much time dealing with them. If you feel like you are wasting too much time on email, you need re-evaluate how you manage it. Here are five simple tips to help you regain control over your inbox so you can do more important (and fun) things.

    1. Keep it under six sentences

    Nobody likes to read long emails. As more people are checking their emails on their phones and tablets, you need to be succinct with what you write.

    Try to keep it brief by using no more than six sentences. This will force you to get to the point. If you need more sentences – consider calling the person or having a face-to-face meeting to communicate your thoughts.

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    2. Make it second priority

    Don’t be a slave to your inbox. If you are, someone else has power of how effective your days are and that’s a recipe for disaster. The issue with people treating their inbox as their to-do list is that external people have direct control on how you go through your day and what your workload will be. Instead, you should be the one in control.

    Here is an easy way to get started with this: don’t check your email first thing in the morning. Make it the second thing – after you have done your most important task.

    This first simple step allows to take back control over your day. Even if email is very important to you, give this a try. If that means post-posing checking your email by half an hour – do it. That is plenty of time to do one important task.

    3. Don’t always respond instantly

    Email is not the best medium for urgent matters – that’s where phone calls excel. However, email is great for correspondence where you don’t require an immediate response.

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    That’s why you want to make it a habit to not always respond to emails immediately. The idea is that you do not want to condition others that email is an effective medium for urgent matters. If the other person notices that you always respond to email within ten minutes, that person will start to assume he or she can email you for urgent matters.

    No.

    You want to avoid that as much as possible. Be upfront with people when you communicate a lot via email. I always tell others that they will get a response from me within two business days. If they need to reach me for something urgent, they can call or text me. Otherwise, I prefer to receive emails.

    4. Email hotspots

    If you constantly checking your email and you process your email as they come in, you are wasting a lot of time. Instead, you should check your email in batches. Batching tasks is an effective way of processing and getting things done that are similar in nature. That’s why you should do this as well as part of how you manage your emails. Here is a simple tip to do that:

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    Check emails at fixed times and spend no more than half an hour each time.

    I like to call this concept “email hotspots” – the times of the day when you process your email in batches. This requires you to turn off your email program and to learn that it is okay to process emails at fixed times each day.

    This guidelines is flexible depending on how many emails you get. If you get less than thirty emails a day, checking your email twice in a day should be good enough. In a typical 9-to-5 day, 10am (you have an hour to do one task before checking your email) and 3pm are great times to do this.

    5. Touch it once

    The touch it once principle says that each item should only be handled once. This is especially the case for emails. Have you ever read an email, thought about replying back, postponed it and you had to reread the email again to understand what it was about? It happens to the best of us.

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    Doing this for one email is fine. What if you have to do this with twenty emails? You will be wasting a lot of time. It’s more effective to deal with emails as you read them for the first time. Don’t let emails linger around “for later”. Touch it once. Read and decide what to do right away with it. If it takes less than two minutes to respond, do it right away.

    If you have to respond but for some reason you can’t – put the email in the drafts folder. This folder will have all the emails you’ve started to reply to, but have not sent yet. As you come back to it, you know where to find your email and you can promptly respond.

    (Photo credit: Businessman Working on Email via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on September 18, 2020

    13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

    13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

    For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

    “We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

    “It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

    Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

    You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

    Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

    1. Take a step back and evaluate

    When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

    1. What is the problem?
    2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
    3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
    4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
    5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

    Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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    2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

    If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

    At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

    Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

    3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

    Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

    4. Process your thoughts/emotions

    Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

    1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
    2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
    3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
    4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

    5. Acknowledge your thoughts

    Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

    By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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    Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

    6. Give yourself a break

    If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

    7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

    A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

    Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

    After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

    8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

    As Helen Keller once said,

    “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

    Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

    9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

    In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

    1. What’s the situation?
    2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
    3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
    4. Take action on your next steps!

    After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

    10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

    A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

    Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

    For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

    11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

    No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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    12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

    No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

    13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

    There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

    After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

    Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

    Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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