Photo by Jam Adams
Unfortunately, you can’t just whip your inbox into shape and have it stay that way. You need to create the proper habits. It’s time for your inbox to get exercising!
1. Wait to check it. Don’t open the inbox when you first walk into work. Wait at least an hour before you dive in.
2. Process in batches. Only fire up your inbox periodically, when you’re ready to process the emails. Think of it like a series of little email sprints throughout the day. You go to the track (i.e., your inbox) to run, not just to see if it’s there.
4. Delete, if possible. Is there any way you can delete that email? That should be your first possible action: trash it. If you get lots of trash from a sender, setup a filter to automatically delete their emails.
5. Respond, if quick. Can you take the necessary action in 1 or 2 minutes? (maybe even 30 seconds?) Do it now!
6. Deflect Is there any way you can delegate an email to someone else? Or can you serve it right back to the sender? All’s fair in the email war. You just have to be more cunning than the sender.
7. Don’t file. Email folders are an exercise in utility. Create an “Archive” folder. After you’ve processed an email from the inbox, archive it. Search will retrieve it later, if needed.
8. Don’t label. The same goes for excessive labels. Having a “reply” or “read” label can be useful, but you don’t want to try labeling every email with a complicated labeling system.
9. Be concise. Emails aren’t novels, so limit what you type. Try the awesome 5 sentences method. Your communication will be quicker and more effective, guaranteed.
11. Keep fighting. As I mentioned above, this isn’t a one-time deal. Email is a constant stream of information, so you have to make it your goal to keep processing diligently. There’s nothing sweeter than an empty inbox.
Thanks for reading this Email Checkup series. If you missed the first two posts, you can view them through the links below. Don’t forget to subscribe to Legal Andrew via RSS.
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