How to Reduce Email in Your Inbox

Date: On Demand (access any time)
Investment: $285 per person
(Discounts for multiple participants)

INCLUDES: One-on-One Telephone Coaching

There are days when I spend a few minutes thinking and trying to remember, how did we EVER function without email? How did we ask for information, or send a request or reach out to a client, without the option of instant communication? I really cannot imagine what my life would be like without the power of email today.

In reality though, email and all forms of ‘instant anything’ can be both a boon and curse. It’s a boon for the obvious reasons; it’s fast, cheap and can shrink the world of business and make things more accessible and easy. It is also a curse because email makes us lose focus at times; it’s so easy to  mistake replying to and sending emails as productive work. Some days all I can do is come into work and clean up my inbox and I manage to convince myself that I had a productive day.

However in reality, if you look at almost everybody’s job description (unless you are in customer service), the ability to read, reply to and send emails is almost NEVER listed as a key skill, competency or criteria for performance evaluation. In this podcast we are going to look at 5 ways to deal with the email in your inbox so that you can actually get some other work done during the day.

  • Never start your day trying to clear your inbox
  • Turn off your e-mail ‘auto’ checker
  • Respond to only critical e-mail in the morning
  • Apply triage to all your e-mail
  • Understand how to use your e-mail program’s functionality
  • Handle each piece of email only once

1. Never start your day trying to clear your inbox

The biggest mistake people make is that they come into work, grab a cup of coffee and start checking their email, and they kind of keep checking their email for a long time, sometimes till lunch and then after lunch, they need to check their email again and finally once more before they leave for the day.

Some days they change their priorities for the day based on what was in their inbox in the  morning and one some days they spend the entire day trying to craft the perfect reply to a particular email. Rather than starting your day with email, resolve to get into work and tackle the first 3 things on your to do list for a few hours before you begin to clean your inbox. Set yourself time periods for email, like 12 – 1 or sometime in the afternoon. Check email during the times that you are least productive, rather than the times when you are most productive.

2. Turn off your e-mail ‘auto’ checker

There is a function in every email program that alerts you every time you receive an email. I am sure that the designers thought this was a great function…it’s NOT. If you want to be productive and work distraction free, turn OFF your email auto checker function and check emails only at the times that you designate for email checking and responding.

3. Respond to only critical e-mail in the morning

I know some people who check email only twice a day, some which check email as little as once a week, they are the lucky ones whose jobs perhaps allow them to do this. If your work environment requires you to check and respond to email daily, then you can make a promise to yourself to respond to only critical emails in the morning. Save the rest of the emails for when you are not feeling so productive or you have some free time between tasks.

4. Apply triage to all your e-mail

It is a good idea to apply triage to your emails, which means that you need to separate your emails into three categories: emails that you need to reply and respond to personally and immediately (this is the category you deal with immediately); emails that are important but can be responded to by someone else or do not need to be dealt with immediately and lastly emails that you really don’t need to read or reply to at all.

5. Understand how to use your e-mail program’s functionality

Your email program will probably have some great features. You can flag emails for follow up, set reminders on certain emails, sort incoming email by colour based on sender and priority. Automatically delete certain emails by sender or subject etc. Regardless of whether you use Outlook, Lotus Notes or some other email program, you should spend a day or two going through the free tutorials that will either be online or in the ‘help’ section of the program.