Email Overload

We have all been there, dealing with a big work load and receiving email after email that need to be actioned. This for some people can become overwhelming and unproductive. We have outlined the following techniques, that if followed properly could improve email management. Good luck...

Checking Email - Checking your email regularly during the day can be an effective way to keep your inbox at manageable levels. However, the constant interruption and distraction that comes from multitasking in this way can dramatically lower your productivity, and disrupt your ability to enter a state of flow when working on high value projects.

One strategy you can use is to check email only at set points during the day. For instance, you may decide that you'll only check your email first thing in the morning, before lunch, and at the end of the day.

Here, it helps to set your email software to "receive" messages only at certain times, so that you're not distracted by incoming messages. If you can't do this, at least make sure that you turn off audible and visual alerts.

Reading Email - When you read email, you can waste hours if you don't use this time intelligently.

First, try using the "Two-Minute Rule" when you read your mail – if the email will take less than two minutes to read and reply to, then take care of it right now, even if it's not a high priority. The idea behind this is that if it takes less than two minutes to action, it takes longer to read and then store the task away "to do later" than it would to just take care of the task now.

For emails that will take longer than two minutes to read or respond to, schedule time on your calendar, or add this as an action on your To-Do List, to do later. Most email programs allow you to highlight, flag, or star messages that need a response, so utilize this handy feature whenever you can.

Organizing Email - Can you imagine having an inbox with nothing in it? It almost sounds too good to be true! Although a completely empty inbox might be unrealistic for many of us, keeping our main inbox cleared can make us more organized, and help eliminate stress.

First, set up a simple filing system to help manage your mail.
You could use broad categories titled "Action Items," "Waiting," "Reference," and "Archives." If you're able to stay on top of your folders – particularly "Action" and "Waiting" folders – you could use them as an informal To-Do List for the day.

The advantage when you create specific folders for processing email is that it makes it easier to search for past mail: instead of scouring your entire email system, you can simply search in that particular folder.

Using Rules - Most email programs, such as Outlook and Gmail, allow you to establish "Rules" that sort email into a particular folder as soon as it comes in.

For instance, you might get several emails per day that notify you of sales that your company has made. You want to receive these, because you want to see what's happening, but you don't want them to clutter your inbox.

This is where you could set up a rule in your email program that moves emails with, say, "Sale Notification:" in the subject line straight to the "Sales Made" folder as soon as they come in. This means that you don't need to manually file these emails, and allows you to keep all of the sales emails in one folder.

Hopefully these tips will help you better manage your emails and be more productive.

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