We all know that email is an integral way of communicating within the workforce but it’s no secret that many of us feel overwhelmed by the number of emails we receive and are sitting in our inbox waiting patiently for a reply.
There are some strategies that can help make emails more manageable and efficient so you can focus on the other tasks at hand.
1. Check email only at set points during the day
It can be tempting to stay on top of your email by checking it regularly however, the constant interruption and distraction that comes from multitasking in this way can dramatically lower your productivity and disrupt your ability to enter a state of focus.
- Try setting specific points in the day as email time e.g. First thing in the morning, just prior to lunch and before the end of the day.
- It helps to set your email software to “receive” messages only at certain times, so that you’re not distracted by incoming messages.
- If you can’t do this, at least make sure that you turn off audible and visual alerts.
- You can also reserve time to read and respond to email after a long period of focused work, or at the time of day when your energy and creativity are at their lowest (this means that you can do higher value work at other times).
2. Organising your Inbox
Keeping our main inbox cleared can make us more organised and help eliminate stress.
- You could set up a simple filing system to help manage your mail. You could use broad categories titled “Action Items,” “Waiting,” and “Archives.”
- You could also set up a more detailed system. For instance, you could create a folder for every project that you’re working on or have a set folder for each of your clients.
- The advantage when you create specific folders for processing email is that it makes it easier to search for past mail: instead of scouring your entire email system, you can simply search in that particular folder.
3. Use email rules to help keep things in order
Most email programs, such as Outlook and Gmail, allow you to establish “Rules” that sort email into a particular folder as soon as it comes in.
- For instance, you might get several emails per day that notify you of sales that your company has made. You want to receive these, because you want to see what’s happening, but you don’t want them to clutter your inbox.
- This is where you could set up a rule in your email program that moves emails with, say, “Sale Notification:” in the subject line straight to the “Sales Made” folder as soon as they come in.
4. Reroute non-essential email to a particular folder
If you regularly receive email such as newsletters, blogs and article feeds, you could re-route these to another email address, or use rules, so that they’re instantly delivered to a particular folder. This will help keep your primary inbox clear, and they’ll be in one place, ready to read at a convenient time.
This is another article in our new WWNSW Wellbeing Series – we are aiming to share articles, resources and tips weekly with advice from our EAP program to manage stress and promote wellbeing in and out of the workplace.