At first, email is a wonderful thing; everything is so well organized, it’s absurdly simple to keep in touch with people, and everything seems to naturally fall into place. But then… something happens and suddenly, it’s not so wonderful anymore; everything is everywhere, you’re always stuck emailing the wrong people, and nothing ever seems to be where it needs to be.dekor-okno
What happened along the way? You can’t even go a full thirty minutes without needing to check your inbox. The messages you receive are never as clear as they should be. You spend way too long emailing people about petty items. And you consistently put off messages you really shouldn’t put off.
But alas, you’ve reached the point of no return; there’s no going back. You must find a way to the other side of all those messages, attachments, and requests before it’s too late, and you’re permanently stuck in the sludge of downtime, angry coworkers, and neglected action items.
Here are a few tips to help you in your journey to the other side of the inbox.
Just get it over with.
It’s way too easy to glance over an email and then the next and then the next and then the next… not really doing anything with any of them. This is a horrible habit and a surefire way to end up missing deadlines, misreading information, and gliding right past important requests. To eradicate this issue, handle each email as you read it, and if you aren’t going to, then mark that email as unread.
Don’t be too wordy.
Emails shouldn’t be overflowing with content. In fact, the shorter the better. Fewer words also mean there’s less of an opportunity for people to misinterpret your message, as well as your tone. You don’t need to explain everything behind your message, and if you feel that you do, then you need to pick up the phone and make a call. Odds are that if you attempt to send someone a six paragraph email, they’re going to send you an email asking you to call them.
Clean out your box.
If you receive an email that says “thanks” or “got it” or “Jim accepted your meeting request”, do yourself a favor and delete them right away. There’s no sense in holding onto messages like those. All they do is clog up your inbox, making it more difficult for you to search for emails that actually mean something.
Designate the time.
If you let it, your inbox can and will rule your life. It will consume every minute of every day, and your time will be spent “in-between” emails. Avoid this depressing possibility by sectioning off specific portions of your day for email, and do not allow this time to seep into the other parts of your day. Depending on how reliant you are on your inbox, this may differ. But a good place to start is about once every two hours spend 20 minutes checking your email. When this 20 minutes rolls around, you’ll be motivated to legitimately process, organize, and respond to your emails.