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7 tips of handling your Emails without feeling overwhelmed

7 tips of handling your Emails without feeling overwhelmed

Our lifehack.org reader, Roman Rytov asks an interesting question on email management. Roman starts with an example from David Lorentzo where David has gone to the extreme and plans to delete all of the cc’ed emails in his inbox:

Hi folks,

Wonder what your opinion on the matter is.

David Lorentzo suggests getting rid of a Blackberry and delete immediately emails where he’s simply CC-ed as means of taming the email monster. I feel it’s too drastic and impractical and contemplate on possible solutions on the existing problem of email overload

How do you manage your hundreds of emails? Would you mind to comment or post your own recipe of success?

Thanks,

Roman Rytov

I think because we are in 21st century, it is normal that everyone has hundreds of emails daily – and I am not an exception. The amount of emails mean that people are moving their communication channels to email. Once in a while I feel overwhelmed with emails, but most of the time my inbox is manageable. I do not feel the technology of email gives us trouble – it is a very productive tools if you (and other people) use it correctly.

Emails that are cc’ed to you are similar to other emails, and I consider those are not as important as the ones sending to you directly. In here, I will put cc’ed emails into factors and introduce seven tips that I setup and use daily to overcome the flood to my inbox:

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  • Use filtering and use it extensively. I filter everything except emails which are sent to me directly. Yes, filter all of your organization memos; filter all your mailing list emails; filter all your emails which are cc’ed to you. This way they cannot clutter your Inbox and you can choose to not read them. In regards to the email server setup: The organization that I work for uses a IMAP server with a server-side filtering system – after I setup the filters, everything will be in folders already, no matter which email client I use.
  • Filter specific sender out from the inbox. Have you identified someone who like to send/forward you emails regardless if the material is relevant to you or not? Blacklist them by filter them out into a special folder. You don’t want to read them immediately.
  • Schedule fixed time to review the folders. Ask yourself a question – if you are not reading the email in X hours, can you still perform your work? If you can, then schedule your email folders review in max X hours. Especially with cc’ed and memos, you are being informed, and you are not obligated to reply the sender. Pace your time and get informed with the emails only if you have a chance.
  • Read emails as a thread. An universal rules: If an email has more to: and cc: recipients, it attracts more replies. When you view them as a thread, you can get the information and conversation at once.
  • Don’t answer every emails, especially if you’re cc’ed. I think reading email does not require a lot of time – the time usually being used when I need to reply the email. I need to think, I need to write, I need to review. So don’t reply except you really need to. If you are cc’ed, by the logic you are only being informed.
  • If you cannot reply the email immediately, move it to a @Reply folder. After you read an email, you need to reply the sender but you cannot do it right now – why not flag it by moving to a different folder. At that point of time, you already filtered the email in your mind. If you do not act on it by moving it into a different folder (such as @Reply), you need to come back and differentiate what you need to reply with other emails – you will spend double of the time on mind-filtering it again.
  • If you cannot read the email immediately, move it to @Read folder. Similar reason as the previous tip, if you read briefly and you’ve declared an email as a “read-later” type of email. Don’t mind-filter it again, do a manual filtering by moving it into a @Read folder, and then schedule a reading time on that folder and read it all at once.

I hope these tips from my still-improving email system can help you in some ways. Of course some tips may suitable to you – some may not. But if you have something that works for you already, please comment here to help others!

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Leon Ho

Founder of Lifehack

Book summary: A Technique for Producing Ideas Finding Your Inside Time 10 Ways to Extend Laptop Battery Life Bob Parsons on His 16 Rules for Survival Free note taking templates and techniques

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

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