We are many who receive quite a lot of e-mails, perhaps even more than we can handle and are comfortable with. It is easy to feel that you are the victim of dire circumstances when it comes to the constant flow of mail into your inbox, but it is possible to be more efficient by working structured even with this.
Here are five concrete ways in which you can work more efficiently with your incoming mail.
- What does the e-mail mean to you?
Determine right away, the first time you read it, if the e-mail should be saved, if it requires a new task on your to-do-list or if it can be chucked into the bin right away.
So, does it contain any information that might be useful at some point further on, or perhaps at a time you can predict already, for instance, you know now that it contains information you will need Friday next week?
Or, is the e-mail equivalent to a new to-do-task that will either take less than 2 minutes of your time and which you in that case will do immediately, or to a task that will take longer to complete and is therefore added to your to-do-list?
Or does it represent the start of a new large or small project which in itself consists of several tasks? Or does it contain something somebody else is supposed to do and you are supposed to delegate to them, and then note that you passed it forward on your list for delegated items so that you are able to track its progress and make sure it gets completed in time?
- Save the e-mails where you save other documents
If you keep a system to organize the folders on your hard drive where you save all the documents regarding a certain client, a project or with regards to some other category, save the e-mails relevant to those categories in the same folder as well. E-mails are also documents, only in the shape of an e-mail. Don’t just leave them in your inbox after you have dealt with them.
- Filter to get a clear view
Utilize the function available in most e-mailing programs which renders you the possibility to direct incoming e-mails to specific folders depending on keywords in the topic or who the sender is. In the same way as you have divided your tasks on your to-do-list into contexts to simplify your dealing with them, doing this will make it easier to focus on the project, client etc that you are working on right now.
- Check for e-mails sparsely and frequently
If you get easily distracted by the continuous flow of incoming e-mails, change the program settings so that it for instance only updates the inbox once every 90 minutes.
This means that you will collect new e-mails when you arrive at work, halfway through the morning, at lunch, halfway though the afternoon and before you go home.
- Signals and pattering trumpets
If you get distracted by the incoming e-mails, turn off the sound-signal indicating the new arrivals. Also turn off any visual indicators, such as the little pop-ups in the lower corners of the screen, which lets you know whenever you get a new e-mail and roughly what it’s about.
How do you do it?
Are you sitting on any tips on how to handle your incoming mail in a smart and easy way, pass it on by commenting below. Thank you!