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:
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?
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:
- 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!