Organized people love checking things off their “To Do” Lists. Although modern technology has made office life much easier, certain applications, like email, inadvertently add to the challenges of the work day. Even a Professional Organizer like me can be daunted by the amount of emails sitting in my inbox at the end of the day.
The average worker today handles 125 Emails each day–That’s a lot of sending and receiving. How you handle them as they come in directly affects your level of productivity. Here are five tips to help you stay on your feet as you battle with your Emails.
1. Shut off all Email notification sounds and symbols. The average worker is interrupted every 8 minutes, and email is one of the most constant distractions. Those dings, pings, and musical chimes are as insistent as a toddler pulling on your pant leg. They don’t stop tugging until you give them your attention.
2. Ignore your Email for the first hour of your day. Don’t even turn it on. Instead, focus on a project requiring your best attention, focus and energy. You’ll be amazed at how much you get done this first hour of the day versus jumping into Email and letting it drive the rest of your day.
3. Batch your Email transactions. Check Email 2-3 times per day instead of keeping it constantly open.
- Let your co-workers know this is your new MO so they can properly adjust their expectations of receiving a reply.
- Responding to an Email within seconds of receiving it trains others that you can be interrupted at any time.
- When it’s time to check your Email, focus on nothing but email. You’ll be amazed at the efficiency of this method! You’ll also make quicker decisions.
4. Avoid using your Inbox as a dumping ground. It’s not a filing cabinet nor is it your To-Do List.
- Once you’ve read an email, if a response is needed, and it can be done in less than two minutes, do it.
- Otherwise, move it to where you’ll work on it later. For example, drag it to your electronic To Do list (TaskPad within Outlook), drag it to your calendar if it’s regarding an upcoming appointment, or save it in an email file folder.
- Other actions include deleting, forwarding, or archiving messages or files on your hard drive.
5. Give your subject lines their rightful attention. Taking time to properly name an Email helps the recipient know your needs and helps you better track your communications on certain topics.
- Use abbreviations in the subject line such as EOM (End of Message) or NNR (No need to respond) – informing the recipients that they don’t have to open an Email or send one back.
- Within Outlook, change the subject line of a received email if it will help facilitate recall of the Email’s subject. For example, instead of a subject line like this—”Meeting agenda,” you might want to clarify to this: “Agenda for Community Fundraiser meeting 2-14-09.”
6. Be a mindful mailer. Sending fewer Emails will result in less email received.
- Instead of Emailing and potentially creating a strand of 6-8 Emails throughout your day, opt for a 30-second phone conversation instead.
- Don’t cc individuals unnecessarily.
- Use the bcc feature to protect identities and email addresses of others.