Never Fear Your Inbox Again With These 3 Email Hacks
Looking for a playbook to tackle your email? Here are 3 productivity hacks that will make your inbox a friendly, manageable place.
What’s the right way to manage your inbox? There are plenty of tips to organize emailand be more productive, but I’ve learned that what works best for me is specific to my situation–just like a playbook is specific to the game.
I’ve been asked many times about how I manage my tasks among running CoachUp, investing in and advising startups, serving as a mentor and writing. Some people say email is a waste of time, but ironically, how I manage my inbox is what allows me to conquer my schedule and remain highly productive.
With hundreds of emails every day and many personal relationships, you can’t afford to fall behind on communications. Here’s how I tackle everything that comes my way.
1. The wake up filter.
Most productivity experts say you shouldn’t check email first thing in the morning, but that’s where I get started. I scroll through everything, delete and unsubscribe from anything irrelevant, and respond to anything that I can answer quickly.
The point of this step is to filter out the easy emails that don’t require a lot of thought. As for the emails that require more thought, I flag them for later.
2. The morning play.
After going for my morning run and preparing for the day, I return to my inbox to answer the most pressing emails.
This is when I send out emails that require more thought, like following up on projects that require my attention to move forward. I also get plenty of networking emailswhich I respond to using canned responses depending on the availability of my schedule. Using templates to respond to these emails helps me move through them efficiently.
It’s important to respond to important emails early in the day, because you don’t want to be the reason that a group project gets delayed.
3. The trail off.
I check my inbox every two hours throughout the day, then again after the gym and dinner. To respond to emails outside of working hours, I’ll use Sidekick. Scheduling responses for the next morning means emails won’t be buried too deep in the recipient’s inbox.
This brings me to my one rule, which is that I don’t check email after 9 pm. That time is set aside to get reading done, to reflect on the day and prepare for tomorrow.
While following these three steps may appear to be spending a lot of time in your inbox, it’s manageable because you’re accomplishing three important things:
- Checking emails on a set schedule means you’re not buried in emails constantly;
- Being selective with which emails get responses–and employing template responses–allows you to streamline the time it takes to manage correspondence;
- Finally, setting “rules” in place ensures you have time and space to think outside of what may be an often overflowing inbox.
While these practices help me manage my correspondence, the fact is that there isn’t one right way to manage communications. It’s a matter of coming up with the techniques that work for you.
What is your daily playbook to dominate your inbox?
Originally Published in Inc. on: SEP 9, 2015