Email has become one of the most demanding, stressful and overwhelming parts of our day. There’s email streaming in at all times and a torrent like a flood. Add to that, there’s many important tasks and documents imbedded in the stream. Email has moved from a way to share information to a heavy chore to dread. Here’s 9 tips on how to conquer email and feel good at the end of the day.
We have had email overload for a while. It’s time to take charge of how it is organized.
To file or not to file? That’s a great question! While our technology gives us the opportunity to never file, do we file what we what to find most easily? The search tools work for anyone who does not want to file at all. However, if you want to file, here’s the easiest way to set up your folders. Think big categories! For home these categories are Financial, People, and Home. For work these are the different categories of work you do. Most likely it is Clients, Vendors, Marketing and more. The reason to think big is that you can gather information into these general files and not spend too much time on filing. It also gives you a specific home for specific information. Write out your categories before you begin to be sure you have a category for all the topics in your email.
Email subject lines
Universally the first line we see in email is the subject line. Make it a good one! Be specific and short. Email is intended to inform, not discuss. The best subject lines are short and sweet and to the point. If you recieve one that is not, reply with a more appropriate line to keep your email on target. If you decide you want to file this email, you can email yourself with a new subject line too to keep it relevant.
Signature lines share your contact information. There’s a lot to keeping in touch with your contacts and also sharing who you are and what you do. There’s great ways to write these to help your contacts and you stay in touch. That’s also where you should begin in keeping connected. Add the information from the signature line to your contacts. It will cross over to all your devices to use when you want to email or call.
Documents are intended to be detached from email and kept in your Documents folders. This is the way to make work happen. If you are working together on a document, google docs is the way to go!
Tasks on your task list
The big reason we keep reviewing our email and keep our inboxes full is that there are many tasks in our email. Those tasks range from a one minute acknowledgement we received something to multi-step projects to important responses to a client. Can you apply the 3 minute rule to an email? If it takes 3 minute or less, just do it during your email work time. If it takes more, add it to your task list for completion later. Just this simple rule will clear out your tasks and your email.
The same applies to dates and calendaring as well. Dates that come in email should be added to your calendar and your online calendar as a reminder as needed. Email is not the place to leave your calendar dates to search.
Separate shopping with it’s own email address
What’s cluttering our inboxes the most? It’s our shopping offers! We are reluctant to let go of these offers since we might use them. Set up a separate shopping email to keep these offers together and segregated. It’s going to save a lot of deleting and time.
Work your email and routines that make email disappear
Email is just like snail mail. Would you run up and down to the mailbox every hour to get your mail? Keep your email routines sharp. Check email 3 times a day. That way you always keep it in check and keep up to date on your work. Set aside a work time for those detached documents. That is a power hour when you do important work without distraction.
Our email gets so overwhelming, we leave it for long periods of time. Email gets lost as we open it on a device and then it’s buried in already read email. Determine your own email etiquette to keep communication flowing. Perhaps you consider your “turn around time” 48 hours and letting other’s know this is good. Know who to respond to rather than respond to all. Email etiquette shows your own professionalism. Your email is a reflection of you.
Consider the information, consider the communication
If you are receiving 10 emails about the same topic, it’s time to pick up the phone. Email is not the tool to use instead of a meeting or if you have a crucial conversation to hold. There are times that a one on one phone conversation is required. Know when it’s time to pick up the phone instead of use email for communication.
Email can be conquered with organization. Get started with organizing, then add these tips to your email routine. There’s hope for email organization as you take small steps to conquer this.
Bonus tip: Organize your email with tech tools.
With unroll.me, your subscriptions are organized into a list for you to read but not interfere with your work. Using Mailstrom you can group related mail and act on it as a group. If you use gmail, there’s Boomerang to help you respond to email. Check out one of these tech tools to get through your email overload.