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11 Hacks To Manage Emails Efficiently

11 Hacks To Manage Emails Efficiently

Once, a coworker and I were having a discussion about ways to more effectively manage email.  She said “I have this thing. It bounces on my screen so I can’t ignore it every time an email comes in. That way I make sure I don’t miss anything.”

This wasn’t my idea of effective time management.

Email is important. It’s a vehicle for communication between you and your customers and your employees. You have a problem when you get to a point where email manages you instead of you managing email, which seemed like the case with this little bouncing ball that the team member had.

I receive over 300 emails a day. I could easily be answering emails all day, but then nothing else would get done. Managing these emails effectively is crucial to my focus and productively during the day.

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Here are tips on managing that overactive email inbox so you too can focus on what is most important in your business.

1. Get Organized

Set up folders for all the emails that you need to keep so you have an effective way to file and store email rather than leaving them in your inbox.

2. Turn off notifications

Notifications are constant disruptions to your day.

Reading an email takes longer than just a few seconds. Therefore you must completely shift your focus to that email and away from the project you’re working on. An email requires you to read it, make a decision, take action or file the email away for later, then refocus on what you were doing before the email came in.

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Every time you disrupt your focus, it’s harder for you to complete the task at hand in an efficient and effective manner.

3. Have an Emergency Plan

My clients know that if they need an urgent response than they can reach me via text message or they can call me. Email gets responded to within 24-48 hours. Not every email is urgent, but a lot of times we treat every email like it is which takes your energy away from your priorities.

4. Unsubscribe

Scrub your inbox by deleting and unsubscribing to newsletters and email lists you don’t actually read. Stop hoarding newsletters and emails you’re never going to read later because if you don’t have time to read it now, chances are you are not going to read it when it’s “old”. Give yourself permission to say “I had very good intentions when I kept these but I will never have time to read them and it’s time for them to go.”

5. Mass Delete

Control all – delete is a beautiful thing. I do this every so often for any email I haven’t read or filed for the last six months, which usually means that the chance of me actually reading it is slim to none.

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6. Use your Mobile Device

Learn how to reply using your smart phone and if you have an iPhone then use the VIP function to easily scan messages from key contacts, customers and or employees. This way you’ll be able to quickly sort through the volume and find what’s important.

7. Take Action Once

As soon as you read and respond to an email, it should be deleted or archived. This will leave your inbox with nothing but a manageable number of new emails or those that still need your attention.

I have a folder in my inbox specifically for items I need to take action upon or respond to. This allows me to quickly go to one file and respond to current outstanding requests.

8. Schedule Time for Email

Don’t check your email every 5 minutes. Schedule a couple of times a day to scan, respond, and manage email. Give yourself a time limit and you will be amazed at how much you can get done.

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9. Auto-responders

Use “Out of Office” responders when you are on vacation or out for a day. This lets those emailing you know that you aren’t ignoring them and they will be a priority for you when you return.

10. Time and Place

Be aware of the disruption email can be creating for the important relationships in your life. Checking your email in the evening is fine, so long as it isn’t interfering with your life outside of work.

We have all had someone check email on their mobile device when we are talking to them and felt the sting. Don’t deliver this sting to others.

11. Hire Help

If you can’t manage email yourself than you can hire someone to help you. Find someone who can manage your inbox and respond to email for you.

To win the war on the over bombarded email inbox, make a plan using the 11 tips above and see how your productivity on what’s truly important increases drastically.

Featured photo credit: White Workspace with MacBook/Viktor Hanecek via picjumbo.com

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

What to Do in Free Time? 20 Productive Ways to Use the Time

What to Do in Free Time? 20 Productive Ways to Use the Time

If you’ve got a big block of free time, the best way to put that to use is to relax, have fun, decompress from a stressful day, or spend time with a loved one. But if you’ve just got a little chunk — say 5 or 10 minutes — there’s no time to do any of the fun stuff.

So, what to do in free time?

Put those little chunks of time to their most productive use.

Everyone works differently, so the best use of your free time really depends on you, your working style, and what’s on your to-do list. But it’s handy to have a list like this in order to quickly find a way to put that little spare time to work instantly, without any thought. Use the following list as a way to spark ideas for what you can do in a short amount of time.

1. Reading Files

Clip magazine articles or print out good articles or reports for reading later, and keep them in a folder marked “Reading File”. Take this wherever you go, and any time you have a little chunk of time, you can knock off items in your Reading File.

Keep a reading file on your computer (or in your bookmarks), for quick reading while at your desk (or on the road if you’ve got a laptop).

2. Clear out Inbox

Got a meeting in 5 minutes? Use it to get your physical or email inbox to empty.

If you’ve got a lot in your inbox, you’ll have to work quickly, and you may not get everything done; but reducing your pile can be a big help. And having an empty inbox is a wonderful feeling.

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3. Phone Calls

Keep a list of phone calls you need to make, with phone numbers, and carry it everywhere.

Whether you’re at your desk or on the road, you can knock a few calls off your list in a short amount of time.

4. Make Money

This is my favorite productive use of free time. I have a list of articles I need to write, and when I get some spare minutes, I’ll knock off half an article real quick.

If you get 5 to 10 chunks of free time a day, you can make a decent side income. Figure out how you can freelance your skills, and have work lined up that you can knock out quickly — break it up into little chunks, so those chunks can be done in short bursts.

5. File

No one likes to do this. If you’re on top of your game, you’re filing stuff immediately, so it doesn’t pile up.

But if you’ve just come off a really busy spurt, you may have a bunch of documents or files laying around.

Or maybe you have a big stack of stuff to file. Cut into that stack with every little bit of spare time you get, and soon you’ll be in filing Nirvana.

6. Network

Only have 2 minutes? Shoot off a quick email to a colleague. Even just a “touching bases” or follow-up email can do wonders for your working relationship. Or shoot off a quick question, and put it on your follow-up list for later.

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7. Clear out Feeds

If my email inbox is empty, and I have some spare time, I like to go to my Google Reader and clear out my feed inbox.

8. Goal Time

Take 10 minutes to think about your goals — personal and professional.

If you don’t have a list of goals, start on one. If you’ve got a list of goals, review them.

Write down a list of action steps you can take over the next couple of weeks to make these goals a reality. What action step can you do today? The more you focus on these goals, and review them, the more likely they will come true.

9. Update Finances

Many people fall behind with their finances, either in paying bills (they don’t have time), or entering transactions in their financial software, or clearing their checkbook, or reviewing their budget.

Take a few minutes to update these things. It just takes 10 to 15 minutes every now and then.

10. Brainstorm Ideas

Another favorite of mine if I just have 5 minutes — I’ll break out my pocket notebook, and start a brainstorming list for a project or article. Whatever you’ve got coming up in your work or personal life, it can benefit from a brainstorm. And that doesn’t take long.

11. Clear off Desk

Similar to the filing tip above, but this applies to whatever junk you’ve got cluttering up your desk. Or on the floor around your desk.

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Trash stuff, file stuff, put it in its place. A clear desk makes for a more productive you. And it’s oddly satisfying.

12. Exercise

Never have time to exercise? 10 minutes is enough to get off some pushups and crunches. Do that 2 to 3 times a day, and you’ve got a fit new you.

13. Take a Walk

This is another form of exercise that doesn’t take long, and you can do it anywhere. Even more important, it’s a good way to stretch your legs from sitting at your desk too long.

It also gets your creative juices flowing. If you’re ever stuck for ideas, taking a walk is a good way to get unstuck.

14. Follow up

Keep a follow-up list for everything you’re waiting on. Return calls, emails, memos — anything that someone owes you, put on the list.

When you’ve got a spare 10 minutes, do some follow-up calls or emails.

15. Meditate

You don’t need a yoga mat to do this. Just do it at your desk. Focus on your breathing. A quick 5 to 10 minutes of meditation (or even a nap) can be tremendously refreshing.

Take a look at this 5-Minute Guide to Meditation: Anywhere, Anytime

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16. Research

This is a daunting task for me. So I do it in little spurts.

If I’ve only got a few minutes, I’ll do some quick research and take some notes. Do this a few times, and I’m done!

17. Outline

Similar to brainstorming, but more formal. I like to do an outline of a complicated article, report or project, and it helps speed things along when I get to the actual writing. And it only takes a few minutes.

18. Get Prepped

Outlining is one way to prep for longer work, but there’s a lot of other ways you can prep for the next task on your list.

You may not have time to actually start on the task right now, but when you come back from your meeting or lunch, you’ll be all prepped and ready to go.

19. Be Early

Got some spare time before a meeting? Show up for the meeting early.

Sure, you might feel like a chump sitting there alone, but actually people respect those who show up early. It’s better than being late (unless you’re trying to play a power trip or something, but that’s not appreciated in many circles).

20. Log

If you keep a log of anything, a few spare minutes is the perfect time to update the log.

Actually, the perfect time to update the log is right after you do the activity (exercise, eat, crank a widget), but if you didn’t have time to do it before, your 5-minute break is as good a time as any.

More Inspirations on What To Do During Free Time

Featured photo credit: Lauren Mancke via unsplash.com

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