Is managing email a struggle for you at work? Do you dread going through your inbox full of a plethora of emails? Checking email sounds like a simple task to go through, but that’s not always the case. With practice, you can master how to manage your email inbox.
There has to be time to reply and write longer messages, along with catching up on newsletters. For the remainder of this post, I will go over some of the best tips for managing email.
UPDATED: SEPTEMBER 17, 2022
Professional email tips
Electronic mail (email) has been around for nearly three decades. It’s changed the way we communicate quickly with others.
Today, email has greatly benefited the world, but it’s been somewhat of a burden on people’s time. Though email usage won’t stop anytime soon, there are ways you can take control of your inbox.
Email should be a helpful productivity tool rather than a distraction from real work. By keeping some tips in mind, it’ll be less dreadful managing email.
Clear your inbox daily
Reviewing your inbox each day can help you stay focused on the most critical tasks. If you leave it flooded some days, it’ll mean more time you spend responding to messages on other days.
So when you go through your inbox, go through each message promptly. If it doesn’t require immediate action, save it for another time.
There’s an excellent method Michael Hyatt lays out for processing your inbox. But first, you need to ask yourself the following questions:
Read each message once and ask yourself: Is this message actionable, or am I asked to do something? If so, do one of the following three actions:
|DO- Take action on the task immediately. If it can get done in less than two minutes, knock it out right now.||DELEGATE- Pass the task along to someone better to tackle the action.||DEFER- Decide to complete the task later for functions that take more than two minutes or cannot delegate. Add it to your to-do list or schedule it on your calendar.|
If the task is not actionable or requires a response, do one of the two options:
|DELETE- Determine if you might need the information later. If not, delete it.||FILE- if you need to refer back to an email later, file it. Put it in a folder called “Processed Mail” or an archive folder.|
Stop “CC’ing” everyone in your email
If you work for a mid-size to a large company, getting “CC’ed” in your email is very common. Unfortunately, it cannot be enjoyable if the message has nothing to do with you. It’s like getting a statement meant to kill some time but not necessary to read.
So back to email basics- don’t CC your entire team and only do it for relevant groups. “CC’ing” is an excellent feature for those who need to read another email, but it shouldn’t be overdone.
“CC’ing” practices at my jobs
I can’t tell you how many emails I was CC’ed in recent years. As I mentioned earlier, the majority of them didn’t need my attention.
However, I recalled some of my colleagues fixing this issue when we launched a new communication tool. The tool allowed us to send messages to only relevant groups rather than everyone in our department.
I thought it wasn’t perfect; it was a vast improvement over getting unnecessary emails that had nothing to do with my concerns.
This tip may be challenging for some, but it can save so much time daily. Those who are attached to their email, they’re willing to respond as soon as possible.
Hold off on it for an hour or even the next day unless it requires an immediate response. Or, in some instances, return within a few minutes.
The ability to discipline yourself is key to managing your inbox. Without it, some people will stay glued to their email because it takes up a lot of time.
If I should delay- what else can I do?
Some people use email as their primary communication method. But when it comes to emergencies, email is off the table. So make sure to give out your phone number to those close to you.
Whether that’s family, friends, or business partners, emergencies aren’t meant to land in your email inbox. In emergencies, you’re going to get phone calls or people coming right to your doorstep.
Use the ‘Yesterbox’ method
This unique method came about by Tony Hsieh, the CEO of zappos.com. As he explained his method, he treated his inbox as a daily to-do list.
But as his inbox kept filling up, it led to more work and stress over time.
Therefore, the purpose of “Yesterbox” is to only respond to yesterday’s inbox instead of today’s inbox as your to-do list.
As Hsieh writes, “If it can wait 48 hours without causing harm, then you are not allowed to respond to any emails that come in today, even if it’s a simple one-word reply.”
I think “Yesterbox” is a new method to try out. I never heard of it until a few days ago, but it makes sense if you were focusing on yesterday’s emails.
Many emails come in daily that it can be challenging to keep up with sometimes. I am so waiting until the next day might be a more manageable approach to tackle.
The only concern is the urge to hold off essential emails, which might be a slight exception for some people who would try out this method.
On a rare occasion, I’ll admit I’m guilty of doing that if I have urgent messages to check on. But for the most part, I avoid it whenever possible.
There are many more tips I could go over, but these are some of the best ones to manage your email. With email currently, one of the workplace norms, understanding how and when to check email is more vital than ever.
People need to improve their productivity; also, to focus on what matters the most. If you can implement these best practices, email can be used as a necessary productivity tool.
Instead of a time-waster for many people, why not use email in a better manner? It’s worth looking into to make the most of your time.
Your Turn: How do you look over your email?
I would like to get your thoughts on managing email. Do you find email to be convenient or unnecessary? Which of the tips above do you think works best for you?
Feel free to share your thoughts by leaving a comment below. I look forward to reading them, and I’ll gladly respond promptly.
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Eric is a content writer and the site owner of notimekillers.com. He takes great pride in helping people manage their time and grow their businesses. Eric is a firm believer in time freedom, as he believes in taking ownership of time. “Time is your most important asset. It can be your best friend or worst enemy. How you use your time can shape the future you desire to have.” In his leisure time, Eric loves to write and read whenever possible. He enjoys going for long walks outdoors while doing in-home workout videos every week. You can follow Eric on LinkedIn.
6 thoughts on “How To Manage Your Email Inbox: 4 Email Management Tips”
You caught me – I dread email checking and don’t typically check/clear daily anymore. Unless I’m waiting for something specific, it is a chore and so easy to get distracted and put it off!
I like the yesterbox method – it automatically puts a cap on what I look at and take action on. My only question with this method is: what if you have a pile of older emails to go through, is it best to do a little at a time, or to specifically schedule a time to clear them out all at one? And then proceed to follow the yesterbox method?
The feeling of dreading email is not uncommon. Even myself, I know how that feels when I have a large inbox to go through. If there are some things I know are urgent, then I have to check it sooner than later.
Hsieh’s Yesterbox is a neat method. I’ve tried it myself and it’s less stressful to look over email.
Regarding your questions, it doesn’t matter. I prefer to schedule a time to go through email from the previous day. It’s easier for me to do it all at one time, and make my time more efficient.
One app I use to manage my email is called Sanebox. It helps keep my inbox clean almost every day.
I hope my thoughts helped answer your questions.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts- it’s much appreciated.
Not having to email a ton in my day to day life, I don’t practice email etiquette as often as i should. Perhaps when sending invoices, but even customers often reply as if it were a conversation. In a professional work environment however i could totally see the frustration at my ignorance of the beauty of a non-cluttered, to the point, productive email. It is clear you have experience in dealing with poorly laid out emails, as well as many others, and i hope to share this message so that we may persevere.
Having adequate email etiquette can help when you’re in the workplace. Keeping simple tips in mind can help make writing email somuch easier.
It can be frustrating when you have to compose emails, especially if they’re longer than usual. Depending on the subject, it can be time consuming.
One practice I do sometimes is I’ll start writing an email slowly, and then come back to it later. If they’re longer emails I have to write about, it helps when I want to keep my thoughts all in one place.
But I understand what you’re saying. Hopefully, this post helped provide some helpful tips.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts- much appreciated.
Thank you for this article as it is a painful reminder of how cluttered my email is both personally and professionally. I have multiple personal emails between myself and JT with my wife and a work email and all inboxes hold thousands of emails that have been read.
I briefly had a zero inbox at one point and it felt really really good. I need to remember that and take time out of my day(or multiple days) to really make an effort to zero out all my inboxes once and for all!
There are a lot of people who struggle with cluttered emails. When having too many email addresses to go through at once, it can be daunting. Not only that, but you feel very disorganized.
Accomplishing zero inbox is something I do as a regular habit. I don’t think anyone wants to have an inbox filled with hundreds of emails to go through daily.
But I get what you’re saying. If you follow the tips outlined earlier, it should be easier to manage your email each day.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts- they’re much appreciated!