The typical professional is spending an average of two hours each day reading, managing, and responding to email. The communication tool that was designed to simplify our lives is often just another place for clutter to accumulate and quickly become overwhelming. By implementing a few simple strategies, you can take back control of that overflowing inbox.
- Check email only at defined times each day. Checking email only two or three times a day—for example 10:00, 1:00, and 4:00—provides solid, uninterrupted blocks of time to complete important work. Let your boss, colleagues, and clients know that if they need to reach you instantly, email is not the way. Turning off your email program’s auto notify feature will help you resist the urge to check email more often.
- Respond appropriately. If an email requires a short, simple response, do it immediately. This eliminates the need to go back later and spend additional time re-reading the message.
- Create folders. Create a “Reply ASAP” folder for organizing time-sensitive emails that require a more detailed answer. Use a “To Do” folder for messages that need a response but are not considered urgent. Set up other folders for storing emails that don’t require a response but provide information you’ll need later. Organize these in a way that makes them easy to find when you need them—by client, project, contact, etc.
Setting up this simple system will help you prioritize your time by sorting information based on what needs to be done now and what can wait for later.