Worried about your inbox? It might be stressful to look at all those messages, whether answered or unanswered, sitting there. The good news is it’s an easy fix! Read these 12 email productivity hacks to help you develop good email habits, get your inbox under control, and go on with your day:
1. Every time you open an email, use RAFD. Reply (write back), Archive (save it), Forward (send along to whoever needs to see it), or Delete (trash it).
2. Follow the 2 minute rule. Is answering that email going to take longer than two minutes? Then write back immediately. If you need time to think about your answer, hold off until you have time to compose your thoughts.
3. Shorten your sentences. When you reply to an email, keep your responses to three sentences or less. If you need more to write more than that, evaluate: will it be faster to add this to your to-do list, or to pick up the phone and call them?
4. Prioritize your most important mail first. Now, if you decide to write a longer email, write the one that needs the most attention. Then work your way down the list.
5. Set up a specific time to check your email. Don’t feel beholden to answer every email that comes through your inbox. Instead, choose a few select times during the day to check -- for example, look through your emails later in the morning, then after lunch, and before the work day ends.
6. Use filters to manage incoming messages. Inbound emails that are automatically filtered into a folder system lets you scan emails and figure out who needs a response right away. Try setting up a filtered folder for emails from your supervisor, or redirect emails into your inbox for high-priority clients.
7. Separate individuals from groups. If you work in a large organization and lots of mass emails are sent, it’s useful to prioritize personal communication over company memos.
8. Try Mailbox. It might sound hyperbolic, but this is one of those apps that could seriously change your life. Perfect for on-the-go email checking, use the app to schedule a time to read emails later, whether it’s that night, tomorrow, or next month.
9. Add extra data. Are you afraid to delete emails because you may need to reference them later? Consider purchasing more data for your account. It’s a small price to pay for piece of mind.
10. Don’t use your inbox as a to-do list. This one is very important! Use apps, notebooks, or Post-It notes to write down your daily to-do’s, but when you use your inbox, it keeps it cluttered. It also doesn’t help you remember what you need to do!
11. Unsubscribe! Are you still getting emails from that one website you bought a t-shirt from six years ago? What about that nonprofit you have no passion for, but you’re on the email list because one time you signed a petition online? It’s time to click unsubscribe. Unroll.me is a great way to extract yourself from lists quickly, or set aside a half hour to do it all at once.
12. Deal with personal messages after work. Avoid answering personal emails until you’ve clocked out. It helps create a productive mindset and lets you take time to read that article or watch that video.
What are your favorite email hacks?
Photo: xJason.Rogerx via Flickr under Creative Commons license