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Email can steal more time than almost anything else.
When you’re going through email, you’re on someone else’s agenda. You’re responding to their needs.
Sure, you wouldn’t be doing it if you didn’t get something out of it, but most of the emails you send are answers to other people’s questions, and responses to their needs. Even if you’re sending a decline, that still takes time.
I’ve written about email hacks before. I shared some important tips, so let’s do a quick summary and then get into three more tips that I’ve developed to stay in control of my inbox…
Five Email Hacks to Organize Your Inbox
My previous article can be summed up into 5 easy hacks that you should be using:
- Unsubscribe. If you delete a lot of emails when you sort your inbox, you may need to do some unsubscribing.
- Don’t Use Folders. Searching your inbox is quicker than sorting into folders. If you must, just use one: “archive”.
- Type Less, Type Faster. Limit yourself to 3-sentence responses, and then learn to increase your typing speed.
- Get it Over With. Focus on one email at a time. Process it and move on. Don’t procrastinate, just get it done.
- Have Fun With It. Turn your inbox into a game. Be cheerful and humorous in your emails. Why so serious?
For more depth on those points, check out the article. Now time for some new stuff…
1. Check Email Twice a Day
No more, no less…well, you can get away with once a day. I prefer two shorter sessions to one long session.
I check email once in the morning and once in the afternoon. If something important comes in after my first check, I’ll see it in the afternoon. If something comes in that evening, I’ll see it in the morning. If something is extremely urgent, odds are they have another way to get ahold of me (e.g. phone, Facebook, etc.).
You may work in an environment where this isn’t practical. You may be constantly receiving emails that need your attention. If so, sort your inbox twice a day, and only respond to urgent emails during the rest of the day.
If you’re afraid checking email twice a day will get you in trouble with your boss, share it with him/her and explain how it will make you more productive. Tim Ferriss deciding to take the twice-a-day approach and found this his boss loved the idea.
Whatever times you decide to check it, make sure it’s later in the day, which brings me to point #2…
2. Don’t Do Email First
I usually wake up around 5:00am, but I don’t open my email for the first time until 9:00am. It can wait.
Use the morning hours to do your creative work, meditate, exercise and work on yourself.
Mornings are usually quiet, which makes for a great time to get your most important tasks done.
There are all kinds of things you can do in those most precious morning hours, and email shouldn’t be one of them.
3. Don’t Respond to Everyone
Only respond to people who respect you.
I get hundreds of requests each month from people who want to write for me. If they contacted me from my write for us page, and they didn’t follow the guidelines I laid out on that page, I don’t respond. If I respond by asking them to send me five topic ideas and they only send me three, I don’t respond. If they can’t respect my time enough to fully read and follow my guidelines, why should I take the time to reply to their email?
You may not be getting requests from writers, but you probably have emails from all kinds of people. Are they respecting you and your time? If they are replying to your email, is it obvious that they are just skimming it and overlooking parts? If so, why reply?
There are all kinds of email tools and apps out there, and some are really great, but honestly, if you stick with the things I’ve laid out in this post and my previous post about email efficiency, email won’t be a problem.
What are some other good tips and tricks? What works for you?