Managing email can suck sometimes. I know for me waking up to 50+ emails in my inbox can be daunting if I allow it to be. But putting some hard and fast rules in place, and with some really great productivity tools I can make responding, and sending new emails a really manageable task. Here are a few things that have helped me over the past year and can help you go from frustratingly and constantly emailing all day to efficiently managing your inbox!
Set Boundaries - This one is a BIG one. I use a timer and I set time aside for specifically answering emails. This can be tricky. You can be seen as someone who doesn’t respond enough or in a timely fashion so stay on top of this one. For me I start out my work day with emails. And i set 10-20 minutes aside every two hours to answer emails. I should note I also use what I call “throw away time” as well. This would be time spent waiting for my oil to get changed, dr. appointments, etc. But you should be setting time aside every single day! As I said before, I know when I wake up I will have an absurd amount to get to so I need a full 20 minutes to get through that. And nothing gets in the way of that time. On the other side of that, I try not to pay attention after 5pm or so until right before bed. Although that last one is hard for me. I want to use that to spend time with my wife but sometimes I just get caught up! Setting boundaries in your work day allows you to work efficiently, but also take back time that should be used for yourself!
Use Productivity Apps - My life changed with the discovery of delaying or “boomeranging” emails and yours will too. Here are a few that I use religiously;
Outlook - Yes I said it. I am an apple user and I use Outlook. But only on my iPhone. My iPhone is a work horse when it comes to “GTD Apps” and work stuff and it is truly hands down the greatest mail client on the planet for the iPhone. I for some time used Mailbox, and it was great but it was buggy. I love that Outlook connects to my dropbox and google drive accounts, and also gives me full access to my calendar all within the app. For someone who gets distracted all the time by God knows what, to be able to stay in the app and stay focused on what I am doing is huge for me.
GMAIL Tags and Filters - This one helps me with organizing my email. I like to be able to have a snapshot of new client inquiries, contracts sent, and a whole bunch of other things. If I need to go back and see information on something specific this can be really helpful for me.
Boomerang - This is the single greatest plug-in EVAAAAARRRRRR for gmail. Boomerang gives you the ability to delay sending emails, but more importantly for me, receiving them. You can snooze your email inbox all together, or have emails sent back to you at a certain time. For example, If I don’t get through those 50 emails in the morning I have the ones I need to work on, sent back to me in 2 hours to finish. If a bride sends me logistics information for a wedding a month from now, I can have that information resent to me in a month! I am obsessed with this feature! Side note, Outlook does this too and is another reason why I love it.
Managing email doesn’t have to be a brutal task. With a few small steps and with the help of some of the best technology, you can take something so annoying as hell like email and you can make it something you can plow through with ease! And don’t forget to let us know what you guys use or what helps for you!