Probably most of your work is based on communication through email. Do you find yourself struggling with managing your email inbox?
I remember a time when I struggled with managing my email inbox as the largest nightmare.
Why? Because I have several thousand unread emails between tens of thousands of emails in my email inbox. There were many subscriptions several years old that I did not read.
So, productive email management has become a priority for me.
It seems that one of the most important productivity hacks for entrepreneurs is email management. Yes, it is true when we consider that a large part of our work life is based on our email inbox.
According to research conducted by McKinsey Global Institute in 2012, the average interaction worker spends 28 percent of his workweek on activities related to managing e-mail. Having this in mind, one chaotic email inbox this time can easily become much larger.
That is a waste for you in your entrepreneurial life.
Here, I want to give you six email management tips that I have used to succeed in mastering a productive email inbox to bring my life into my own hands.
1. You need to know your personal and business goals.
If you aren’t purposeful when you are managing your email inbox, you can’t expect that you will succeed in making it a tool that will help you in your work instead of a tool that will start to manage your working life. Yes, you as an entrepreneur need to manage your own email inbox, don’t allow your email inbox to start managing your own time.
Knowing your personal and business goals will give you a clear vision of what you need to do with each email arriving at your email inbox and all emails that are already there in your inbox. So, the first step in mastering a productive email inbox is to be clear about what you want to achieve.
2. Start with fresh cleaning all emails in your inbox.
This is an important step in mastering a productive email inbox because you will never start cleaning it if you have a huge inbox.
For example, several thousand emails are not something that will motivate you to start cleaning your currently received email into your inbox. So, the best possible way to start implementing the strategies covered in this post is to select all your emails and move them to the archive. In such a way, you will have to immediately clean up your inbox.
3. Schedule time for once weekly to process your archived emails.
Now, because you already get rid of many emails, you can start processing them once weekly. Schedule one hour of your time each week to check all archived emails and decide whether they need to stay in your archive folder or not. If you think that you will need some of the emails for reference purposes in the future, you can leave them there. If you think you will not need some of them in the future, you can delete them.
When you decide to delete a specific email from your archive, and it is something related to your own subscription to receive information before several years that don’t matter to you anymore, check if you have the possibility to unsubscribe from the list. You can search all emails archived from the same sender to delete them all at once.
So, with these activities, you will start cleaning your archive folder. Additionally, each email you have received and you are sure it is not because you permit them to send you information, mark it as spam, so you will decrease the possibility to receive emails from the same spammy senders in the future.
4. Automate some simple tasks related to your email inbox.
This tactic will help you not to allow again to find yourself in a position in which your email inbox is totally unmanageable. I can’t go deep with the steps you need to do because different email clients have different possibilities, but I would like to mention some of the things that you can do to automate the next emails that will come to your inbox.
Start with setting up rules and filters so your email client can sort some of the emails at the moment of receiving them. You can automatically add different colors for received emails that are more important to you, like email addresses that come from your clients, suppliers, staff members, or other important senders related to your goals from the first tactic mentioned above.
Additionally, you can automate all emails that come from different newsletter subscriptions. If you still want to receive them, they will be automatically moved to a folder different from the archive folder that you can process at a specific time every week.
5. Manage your email inbox only several times daily.
You don’t always need to be with your email inbox to bring order to your entrepreneurial life. Some people clean their inboxes once daily, others twice or more times daily. How you will do this will depend on your habits and normally your needs based on the work.
So, each day, you will need to check all emails received in your inbox, starting with priority based on the colors if you have already implemented the recommendation from the previous tactic. Use the two-minute rule when you read some of the messages that need an immediate response from yourself. That means if you need less than two minutes to respond to the message, don’t defer it for later, but instead of that, process it immediately.
6. Create and use email templates to process emails that will need a common repeatable response.
And the last tactic that can help you spend less of your time processing your email inbox is creating and using templates for the repetitive response.
In my case, I am using TextExpander on my Mac, and when I need to respond to an email with something that is really repetitive, instead of typing all text, I can type several characters. In such a case, the TextExpander will bring the form in which I can choose from predefined variables, and my message is ready to be sent as a response. This tactic, in large part, will decrease your time processing your email inbox.
Additionally to these six email management tips here, I want to give you one more, and it is consistency. Yes, you need to be consistent in implementing these tactics if you want to succeed in mastering a productive email inbox. Otherwise, you will continue to suffer from a large email inbox.
If you think that something more can be added to this list of email management tips, feel free to share your thoughts.