Email has been around for as long as some people can remember, but as time goes on and email becomes more readily available, people get more addicted to the once convenient service. With the world of technology expanding through mobile devices, it makes it easier to check your email while you’re on the go. While studies suggest that consistently checking your email lowers productivity levels by over 80%, they also show that the majority of the population still checks their email upwards of 20 times a day.
Using email as a traditional form of communication is a great tool, and one that proves to be very convenient; but it shouldn’t take over your life. Here are some tips to help you create a better friendship with your inbox so you can spend more time focusing on your life.
Create an Email Schedule
Many email trends have taken the internet by storm, but one of the best things that you can do, is create an email schedule for yourself, so you aren’t always in your inbox. If you are looking to become less distracted by your email, you can create a plan that minimizes the amount of time that you spend in your inbox, and replying to emails. The less time that you spend focused on email, the more time that you have to devote to other tasks.
It’s important to remember that you shouldn’t avoid your emails altogether. You still need to ensure that you make adequate time to appropriately read and reply to the emails that need to be addressed. The great thing about creating a schedule is there’s no fixed time, and you can adjust it to work to your timetable. If you aren’t sure how much time you need, try starting off with three designated times to check your email through the day. From there, you can lower the time until you find the minimum amount that you need to respond.
Remember that if you do create a schedule, you still need to manage expectations. If your clients and co-workers are used to you replying instantly, it might be a good idea to set up an automatic response with your host or add an expected response time to your signature. That helps to ensure your colleagues and clients won’t get offended if they don’t receive an instant response.
Organize Your Inbox
Regardless of how many emails you have in your inbox, if it’s unorganized, your mind is going to be cluttered, and you could feel like you have more emails that you actually have. When you organize your inbox by creating folders, that helps you to better understand the type of emails that you’re receiving, and it helps you to organize the most important emails to the ones that can wait to be responded to. If your work has separate departments, you can always try creating folders that are specific to the different departments at the company that you work for.
Get Rid of Email Chains
You might not realize it, but email chains can be filling up your inbox and taking up unnecessary space. All it takes is signing up for a membership on a website, putting in an online order, or even expressing interest in something, and you’re typically signed up for a constant stream of emails. Your subscription to emails should be treated as a privilege. If you look closely and read the small font at the bottom of marketing emails, you can find an unsubscribe link. Unless the emails that you are receiving are integral to your job, or something that you are genuinely interested in, unsubscribing is the best thing that you can do to start clearing up your inbox.
Utilize All Tools
All email providers are different, but regardless of the one that you use, there are tools at your disposal to help you with organizing your inbox. Whether you are using Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo, or some other email client, it’s essential that you take the time that’s required to find out what and where those tools are. You might be surprised at just how useful they are.
As one of the largest email providers, Gmail has an excess of one billion users each month. Not only does Gmail offer a reliable email service, but it provides loads of tools to its users to help them manage their account. Gmail Labs provides the option of creating canned email responses so you can save time when you need to respond to longer emails. Additionally, you can enable the multiple inbox features, which allows you to combine all of your inboxes into one.
There are many other tools that Gmail makes available to their users to help with things such as prioritizing content, keeping emails confidential, filters, and snoozing emails until you want to see them. All you need to do is take a look around at the features that are offered to you, and you might be surprised at what you find.
Another favorite, and widely used, email provider is Outlook. Not only is Outlook used by millions of people all over the world, but it’s one of the most recognized email platforms that businesses use, as it’s part of the Microsoft Office Suite.
The tools that Outlook provides its users are some of the best. If you have a list of customers and colleagues that you need to keep in touch with regularly, you can create distribution lists to make it easier to contact those clients and co-workers. Additionally, Outlook also allows you to develop canned email responses, set specific times for your emails to get sent out, create an automatic response and out of office replies, and it even allows you to encrypt your outgoing messages to ensure the information that’s included in the emails is safeguarded.
With over 200 million active users each month, Yahoo isn’t the most popular email service, but it’s substantial enough to make a huge impact. Unfortunately, Yahoo has been involved in lawsuits that have caused their popularity to fall even further, the major one being a privacy breach. If you continue to use the Yahoo service, before utilizing any tools to organize your inbox, you should consider changing your password. You can also turn on the two-step authentication feature that Yahoo offers, just to ensure your information is kept safe.
Yahoo recently introduced premium services that provide ad-free versions of the platform and customer support. The pro version of the email provider does have an annual or a monthly fee, but the company claims that the services offered are more than worth the price. You receive priority support, so if you have questions about how to use Yahoo’s tools, you can contact their customer service to get the help that you need.
Now that you know there are plenty of features that email providers offer, you don’t have much of a reason to have an unorganized inbox. If using tools, unsubscribing from email chains, creating an email schedule, and creating folders for your inbox doesn’t work for you, it might be time to look into email therapy; if such a thing exists. All it takes is a little extra effort on your part to get your inbox under control. Why spend your spare time controlled by your inbox when you could be giving extra attention to work projects and hobbies that you’ve wanted to work on?