A few years ago, I thought that I’d be receiving less email in the future. I thought that because of social media, and all the various ways of communication, email wouldn’t be as important. But, I was wrong. I have never received as much email as I’m currently receiving. I am not exaggerate when I say that I receive between 200 – 300 email every single day. That’s not including spam.
I have developed an easy to use, daily email habit, to stay in control. It’s part of my 14 email productivity tips. I’ve removed distractions, I batch my emails (by using the pomodoro technique), and finally I process my emails by using four different actions.
Processing email is still part of my daily routine. I used to keep my email client active 100% of the time I was at my computer working, but then I realized that it was interrupting me in my work. The first thing I did was to turn off notifications, but still, I knew that my email was active, and once in a while, I started to check if I had received anything new.
Now, I check email three times a day. I filter all my email via SaneBox. The most important email, from my most important contacts, will get through to my inbox, the rest will end up in different folders. This way it’s a lot easier to process the email and get to inbox zero on a daily basis.
I check my emails at specific times and I use a specific time period, apx. 25 minutes, to do everything I need to do with my email. I use a pomodoro app for Mac to track my time.
Four actions to process email
I use four types of actions when I process my email. I either:
- reply right away,
- archive it as a reference,
- add it to my to-do list, or
- delete the email.
If I understand that it’s either urgent or a fast reply, I’ll do it immediately. If it’s not urgen or something I can do fast (in less than 2 minutes), I’ll add it to my to-do list and do it when I have scheduled the time to do it. I archive everything I find useful, and I use Evernote for that. If I don’t reply immediately, add it to my to-do list or archive it, then I’ll delete it.
Email is still my most important method of communication. I try to be brief when I write email, so I won’t use much time to write them, but it’s also a way to not get as many replies to each email I send. I also try to be specific in each email, and do my best to focus on one thing only. This makes it easier to get a fast reply, and it makes it easier to not forget something.
I track my time. I schedule no more than 1 hour of email every day. The longest batch is 25 minutes, the shortest I’ve used is 10 minutes. It all depends on how I’ve been planning my day.