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How Sucessful People Handle Email Effectively

How Sucessful People Handle Email Effectively
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Emails. They never seem to stop, and it’s easy to get buried in them. But there are some people out there who have their inboxes under control no matter what. Their secret? They’ve mastered seven key skills to effectively manage their daily email deluge and get more done.

Here’s an inside look at how successful people handle email effectively:

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They set aside time daily to deal with emails.

Choose several windows of time each day to tackle your inbox and focus on responses. Depending on their jobs, some professionals take five minutes at the top of each hour to deal with their messages or put aside time each morning and afternoon to deal with their emails. Block off time on your electronic calendar for dealing with email daily so meetings or any other distractions keep you away from handling your email. By making time on their daily calendar to deal with email, they increase their overall productivity because they aren’t worried about it while writing that big report.

They prioritize responses.

Take a quick look at your inbox and some messages just naturally jump out at you: emails from your boss, a key client or sales prospect. Open them and respond right away; touch it once and be done. Wait for more time in the day to read the emails from your favorite retailers.

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They use standard responses.

Depending on your job, there may be key frequently used statements and phrases. Format those and plug them in your emails; it will save you time. For example, if you receive a lot of proposals as part of your job, you can create a message like this: “Thank you for contacting me and sending me your proposal. I will look at it and get back to you as soon as I can.” If you use this standard response, you’ll cut down on the amount of time spent on email.

They aim to respond within 24 hours.

This may sound easy, but as more emails come in, messages get pushed down and can easily be forgotten. Make it a goal to respond within one business day to all messages that come in.

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They don’t respond to every email.

Yes, you read that correctly. Not every email needs a response. If the email is just informational and doesn’t require a response, don’t send one. Or if you’re one of those people who feel like they have to respond, send a one sentence response such as “Thank you. I received the email.”

They remove themselves from unnecessary subscription lists.

Truly effective email managers do not sign up for daily newsletters, blog updates, and alerts on their social media accounts. They utilize other tools, such as RSS feeds or a blog reader to keep track of their favorite blogs and information sources. And what about emails from retailers plugging their wares? Use a separate email to handle all those requests and browse through when you have time. That way, you won’t be distracted by the latest sale at your favorite store when you should be responding to a request from your boss.

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They leave emails with links to articles and videos for later.

These emails usually take more time and are often sent for your information (or entertainment). Save some time every day – maybe in the mid-afternoon when you’re looking for a little break – to click on these emails and read the articles or watch the videos. Once you’re done viewing, you can respond to the sender if necessary or just click delete.

By following these easy steps, you’ll be able to handle email effectively and spend more time focused on getting your work done.

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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.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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