If you haven’t checked out Part 1 look it over. This post will make more sense if you read that post first.
They go into more detail on each point. Here is the cliff notes of a recent Lifehacker article. Their advice is bold My comments are not
- “Batch” email at set times. This is huge. I process my inbox to zero and then when I get a chance I batch reply to the emails in the “Need Reply” folder. I would spend even less time on email if I checked it less often but I am a bit compulsive.
- Send and read email at different times. – This is hard to do if you use a web based email program like gmail. If you use Outlook it also helps to turn off automatic send and receive. This allows you to batch your email (see point #1)
- Don’t scan email if you can’t immediately fix problems encountered – Employing this trick is what saves me so much time. I used to read and re read emails over and over without doing anything about them. Now I put them into one of my folders and don’t worry about it again until I get a chance to act or reply.
- Don’t BIF people during off-hours. BIF stands for Before I Forget.
- Don’t use the inbox for reminders or as a to-do list. I put my actionable emails together in a “Need Action” folder. This way they don’t clog my inbox and I can keep track of them.
- Set rules for email-to-phone escalation. Sometimes a 3 minute phone call can save you from 30 minutes of email. A good rule of thumb I learned from my dad is this:
If emotions are involved use the phone instead.
Emotionally charged emails need too much proofing to be worth it. Too often even after spending 30 minutes on drafting an email the recipient still misinterprets it. If you are too angry to make a phone call you are too angry to send an email.
- Before writing an email, ask yourself: “what problem am I trying to solve?” or “what is my ideal outcome?” Don’t send purposeless emails. They waste everyone’s time.
- Learn to make suggestions instead of asking questions. The “where do you want to eat? I donno where do you want to eat?” passive question asking mindset does not make for efficient email processing.
How do you handle your email load? Leave me a comment and let me know what you think.