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11 Hacks To Manage Emails Efficiently

11 Hacks To Manage Emails Efficiently
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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 July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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