If you have never opened your mail box and seen 300 unread messages, then maybe you will not identify readily with the need for this piece. But if you are like me and have struggled with managing an email overload and with tracking down vital mails… then you should definitely read on.
It got so bad at a time that I had to ditch my first email some years ago and start a fresh one. I wish I knew these tips back then. I might have managed them better and spared myself the process of regaining contacts and re-subscribing and all that stuff.
If you work online then you probably receive more mails than most people. Or if your job is such that you receive instructions via mails, then you would equally identify. What do we do to manage our mail box and spare ourselves the hassle of going back and forth sifting through the unorganized mess we call our inbox?
How do we generally manage our mail to get peak productivity and reduce the migraine that comes with a messy mail box that reflects our to-do lists?
There are a few ways we can be pragmatic, creative and proactive in protecting our sanity by creating a sane mail box.
10 of such ways are:
- Have Separate Mail Addresses
Maintain separate mail addresses. One should be for work related mails, and the other for personal mails and news feeds and blog notifications. Usually a personal mailbox is disorganized enough; mixing it with work can become a hopeless case.
If logging into two different mails bugs you then it’s probably good news that with Gmail you can sync all your mail addresses such that you can still manage them from Gmail’s powerful, configurable inbox. To do this, you just need to set up Gmail fetching and Gmail’s “send as” feature.
Couple it with the Multiple Inboxes lab, and you’ve got yourself a powerful, multi-account inbox view… its experimental stuff, but it works well.
- Use the Phone If You Anticipate a Long Conversation
I used to have to deal with a myriad of mails that degenerated into mail conversations with mails sent back and forth. On many occasions, I would wake up to a number of mails from my employees and have to respond to every single one. After a while I began recognizing the trends.
If I get a mail containing an enquiry or a question, I borrow a leaf from Jeff Weiner’s (CEO of LinkedIn) book and pick up the phone. Often times, we settle about 80% of the enquiry or question and then my mail response often serves as official correspondence only.
- Ask NOT to be Copied On Everything
If your job involves working with employees or outsourcing a lot of work or delegating work, you can manage your emails better by not asking to be copied on everything. They don’t have to send a mail at every stage of carrying out your instructions.
This might involve you working with people you trust or trusting the people you work with. This way, you will receive a mail when the job is done and not at every stage in between.
- Delete…Delete A Lot
My morning routine used to always include, prayers, a workout and a session of deleting irrelevant mails over some tea. Imagine waking up to 40 mails and deluding yourself that they are all important in some way.
In deleting you have to be brutal. According to Melissa Gratias, PhD,
“The vast majority of email is transient, repetitive communication. Be brutal. When you go back to your email and find yourself hesitating, remember these words; …delete! delete! Delete!”
I know from experience that that is great advice. Don’t listen to that lying voice that tells you that a particular mail or list of mails has some important info you will need down the line… you often forget about that mail the next day.
- Get your news from an RSS reader
A large number of mails that clog our mail boxes are newsletters we have subscribed to or news and notifications from our favorite blogs and news sources.
Instead of getting the news via email, set up a free RSS reader so you can see them all at a glance…and far away from your inbox. To set up an RSS usually all you need is an account and the URLs of the sources you’d like to include.
- Reduce the number of your email folders
According to Barry Schwartz, author of The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less, “giving yourself too many options can create decision paralysis and decrease your overall satisfaction .”
When working, we often fall into the temptation of creating a new folder for every single topic in a bid to create order. We end up creating chaos, because now with every mail we struggle with deciding which of the plethora of folders to fit it in or if to create yet another folder.
Having fewer folders help our minds work faster and more effectively and with the search ability on our mails, there is no need for the multiple folders.
- Decrease the Number of Newsletters You Receive
Another alternative to using an RSS reader is to do the needful and unsubscribe to the Newsletters that are not absolutely important to you. Often even unsubscribing can be work and can take you on a journey that gets tiring easily. Sometimes you keep receiving the newsletters even after unsubscribing.
Unroll.Me mail management is an excellent resource that gets you free from all the unnecessary Newsletters by automatically identifying all of the newsletters you subscribe to, aid you in unsubscribing from your least favorite ones, and then bundle the rest into a convenient daily digest (automatically organized into categories) called a Rollup.
Now you can check out all of your newsletters in a single email each day isn’t that relieving? All your newsletters in a single mail a day?
- Use the Search Function Instead
Instead of wadding through a large number of folders to find an old mail, simply search for it. You will have to head your mails properly if this function is to be used maximally. However, you can search for key words in the mail that you recall if you can no longer recall the mail subject.
- Use Your Email Filters
Spam is always annoying and another way you can get rid of it is to apply a little trick with your email filters. If you want to totally eradicate spam you can use your email filters to filter out mails containing the word “unsubscribe”. This often includes 99.9% of spam mails.
This way you can get only mails sent directly to you and not to a mailing list.
- Don’t Let Your Mailbox Kill Your Vacation High
Every entrepreneur has to take a break sometime. I used to dread checking my mail box when I returned from a long break from work or a vacation. It usually killed my high so fast and plunged me into the mire of work too quickly.
To avoid that same experience you can take a delete-all-email sabbatical. Let everyone know you’ll be gone and then you set up an auto-responder that tells them to email you back later, or if it is a light vacation, to call you on your cell phone (or drop your assistants cell number) and delete everything that comes in.
That way, you come back to an empty inbox, and anything important enough to wait for your return will be re-sent when you come home.
Having a sane mail box can give that peace of mind and sanity that is necessary for every professional, business man and entrepreneur to achieve peak productivity.
Applying these tips is sure to up your game and productivity. Have fun achieving a Zero mail migraine status.
Is there any other tip you know of that helps you manage your emails better? Please share your secret in the comment section? And if you liked this article or found it useful, kindly share it using any of the various social media share buttons by the side. And don’t forget to subscribe to our MSC newsletter to get updated the next time we publish such wonderful articles.