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Save Time on Email With These 10 Awesome Tricks

Save Time on Email With These 10 Awesome Tricks

Do you spend a majority of your time checking and sending emails? These days it seems like everyone does. It’s become a sort of obsession to keep tabs on the emails that we are receiving. If you dislike emails occupying most of your time, the ways below should help you save time. These tricks are designed to work with the features currently available in G-mail. Check your email provider to see if similar features are available.

1. Use labels to categorize emails

Labels are a way of managing your email and putting them in the appropriate folders where they belong. Think of labels as categories, wherein you separate your work emails from your personal emails and so on. So the next time your friend shoots you an email, it’ll appear in the label named as FRIEND in your inbox. It’s interesting, isn’t it?

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2. Canned responses

Do you find yourself typing the same email over and over all the time? Canned responses, or email templates, can help you. What this does is let you save a copy of the email that you write frequently, and then provides you an easy way to retrieve it when you want. Check out the video below to find out how to use email templates in G-mail.

3. Use keyboard shortcuts

You should make using keyboard shortcuts your habit, at least as long as you’re in the field of information technology. By doing so, you’ll save a lot of time on emails and can use that time to do something creative. For instance, if you want to compose an email without hitting that Compose button, simply hit the appropriate shortcut keys and it should do the magic. I’m sure you’re capable of finding shortcuts for your email program!

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4. Get rid of unwanted email

Most of the times I find my inbox cluttered with offers and unwanted spam. Although my email program filters out some emails, I still see some of them making it to my inbox. What can you do about it? Just hit that Unsubscribe link that appears at the bottom of the message and you should be all set. In case you don’t see it, hit Report as Spam and it’ll never appear in your inbox again. Be sure you aren’t abusing the Report as Spam link, however. If its an email you subscribed to, marking it as Spam will affect other users who actually want to see that email.

5. Load email in a faster environment

If you’re on a high-speed internet connection, you should start using the faster version of your email. G-mail has got both: a lighter view and a faster view. When you click on an email, it’ll appear instantly instead of reloading the whole page, saving you a few seconds (or maybe a few minutes, if you’re on dial-up) with your email.

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6. Use email auto-responders

Whether you’re on a vacation or just want to show people you’re a quick email-replier, set-up an email auto-responder that’ll automatically reply to the emails that you get. If you’re on vacation, you can simply set the responder to say when you’ll be back at the office. It will save you time that you’d have otherwise spent on writing out that email!

7. Use email apps if you’re on mobile

If your smartphone is what you use for all of your emailing purposes, you should get an app that can handle all of this for you. While there may be separate apps for each of your email programs, I’d recommend going for the Mailbox app, as it’s got no clutter. It’ll just be just you and your emails in the app. Saved you a bit of your time, didn’t it?

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8. Say NO to Facebook and Twitter for emails

Whenever a friend of yours posts something on Facebook or Twitter, you can get an email notifying you. These notifications really make no sense to be in your inbox, as they can also be seen by going to these websites. Head over to both of these websites (and other social sites that you’re active on), disable the email notifications option, and you should be all set.

9. An IM is better than an email

You might say I’m unprofessional for recommending instant messaging (IM) instead of professional emails. But if sending an IM can save you the headache of sending a long email, wouldn’t that be preferable? If someone reaches out to you asking for a little help, sometimes an IM would be more appropriate than a formal email.

10. Do NOT use emails for your to-do list

Most people have a tendency of using emails as their to-do list. When they have to do something, they simply send an email containing the message to themselves. So the next time they look at their inbox, they can remind themselves about the task they should do. You should STOP doing this. There’s a number of to-do or task tools out there to make use of and save your inbox from becoming clogged. It’ll help you find your most important emails so you can work on them instead of wasting time.

Featured photo credit: Detail of Girl’s Hands Typing on MacBook/Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo.com

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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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