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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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Save Time on Email With These 10 Awesome Tricks

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Last Updated on July 16, 2019

6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills

6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills

Have you ever thought of yourself as a problem solver? I’m guessing not. But in reality, we are constantly solving problems. And the better our problem solving skills are, the easier our lives are.

Problems arise in many shapes and forms. They can be mundane, everyday problems, or larger more complex problems:

What to have for dinner tonight?

Which route to take to work?

How to fix a project that’s running behind schedule?

How to change from an uninspiring job to a career you’re really passionate about?

Every day, you’ll be faced with at least one problem to solve. But it gets easier when you realize that problems are simply choices. There’s nothing ‘scary’ about them other than having to make a decision.

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No matter what job you’re in, where you live, who your partner is, how many friends you have, you will be judged on your ability to solve problems. Because problems equal hassles for everyone concerned. And people don’t like hassle. So the more problems you can solve, the less hassle all-round, the happier people are with you. Everyone wins.

Why Are Problem Solving Skills Important?

Problem is something hard to understand or accomplish or deal with. It can be a task, a situation, or even a person. Problem solving involves methods and skills to find the best solutions to problems.

Problem solving is important because we all have decisions to make, and questions to answer in our lives. Amazing people like Eleanor Roosevelt, Steve Jobs, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., are all great problems solvers. Good parents, teachers, doctors and waiters all have to be good at solving different sort of problems as well.

Problem solving skills are for our everyday lives.

How to Enhance Problem Solving Skills

Most people believe that you have to be very intelligent in order to be a good problem solver, but that’s not true.

You don’t have to be super smart to be a problem solver, you just need practice.

When you understand the different steps to solve a problem, you’ll be able to come up with great solutions.

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1. Focus on the Solution, Not the Problem

Neuroscientists have proven that your brain cannot find solutions if you focus on the problem.[1] This is because when you focus on the problem, you’re effectively feeding ‘negativity,’ which in turn activates negative emotions in the brain. These emotions block potential solutions.

I’m not saying you should ‘ignore the problem,’ instead, try to remain calm. It helps to first, acknowledge the problem; and then, move your focus to a solution-oriented mindset where you keep fixed on what the ‘answer’ could be, rather than lingering on ‘what went wrong’ and ‘who’s fault it is’.

2. Adapt 5 Whys to Clearly Define the Problem

5 Whys is a problem solving framework to help you get to the root of a problem.

By repeatedly asking the question “why” on a problem, you can dig into the root cause of a problem, and that’s how you can find the best solution to tackle the root problem once and for all. And it can go deeper than just asking why for five times.

For example:

If the problem is “always late to work”…

  • Why am I late to work?
    I always click the snooze button and just want to go on sleeping.
  • Why do I want to go on sleeping?
    I feel so tired in the morning.
  • Why do I feel tired in the morning?
    I slept late the night before, that’s why.
  • Why did I sleep late?
    I wasn’t sleepy after drinking coffee, and I just kept scrolling my Facebook feed and somehow I couldn’t stop.
  • Why did I drink coffee?
    Because I was too sleepy at work in the afternoon, not having enough sleep the night before.

So there you see, if you didn’t try to dig out the root of the problem, you may just set a few more alarms and have it beep every five minutes in the morning. But in fact, the problem you need to solve is to quit Facebook surfing endlessly at night so you’ll feel more energetic in the day time, and you won’t even need coffee.

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3. Simplify Things

As human beings, we have a tendency to make things more complicated than they need to be! Try simplifying your problem by generalizing it.

Remove all the details and go back to the basics. Try looking for a really easy, obvious solution – you might be surprised at the results! And we all know that it’s often the simple things that are the most productive.

4. List out as Many Solutions as Possible

Try to come up with ‘ALL POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS’ – even if they seem ridiculous at first. It’s important you keep an open mind to boost creative thinking, which can trigger potential solutions.

Coming from 10 years in the corporate advertising industry, it is drummed into you that ‘No idea is a bad idea’ and this aids creative thinking in brainstorms and other problem-solving techniques.

Whatever you do, do not ridicule yourself for coming up with ‘stupid solutions’ as it’s often the crazy ideas that trigger other more viable solutions.

5. Think Laterally

Change the ‘direction’ of your thoughts by thinking laterally. Pay attention to the saying,

‘You cannot dig a hole in a different place by digging it deeper.”

Try to change your approach and look at things in a new way. You can try flipping your objective around and looking for a solution that is the polar opposite!

Even if it feels silly, a fresh and unique approach usually stimulates a fresh solution.

6. Use Language That Creates Possibility

Lead your thinking with phrases like ‘what if…’ and ‘imagine if…’ These terms open up our brains to think creatively and encourage solutions.

Avoid closed, negative language such as ‘I don’t think…’ or ‘But this is not right…’.

The Bottom Line

There’s nothing scary about a problem when you start to adapt my advice.

Try not to view problems as ‘scary’ things! If you think about what a problem really is, it’s really just feedback on your current situation.

Every problem is telling you that something is not currently working and that you need to find a new way around it.

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So try to approach problems neutrally – without any judgment. Practice focusing on defining a problem, keep calm and not to make things too complicated.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Planet of Success: Problem vs Solution Focused Thinking

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