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11 Hacks To Manage Emails Efficiently

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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.

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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 October 21, 2021

How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

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How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

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More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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