It seems long forgotten, but there was a day when we were excited to see an email in our inbox. When email first made its way into mainstream business, we jumped at the you’ve-got-mail ding. Fast forward to today, and the constant pinging of email creates more stress than excitement.
If you’re like many people and feel overwhelmed by your inbox, we have some tips on how to manage email efficiently and take back control of your inbox.
Establish a Two Minute Rule
Most of the stress surrounding email is the uncertainty around how long it’s going to take to respond. Too many people spend too much time responding. Nearly every email can be replied to within two minutes by keeping your response short and concise.
When you’re replying to emails, set a timer and adhere to it strictly. If you allow two minutes to reply to every email, you can respond to 5 emails in 10 minutes.
Establish a Twice a Day Rule
If your emails are burning you out, you may be checking your inbox too often. Many people check their inbox every 20 minutes, which is a huge waste of a time. A psychiatrist at King’s College London University found that when you’re in the middle of a task and check your email, your IQ drops 10 points, which is more than it drops when smoking marijuana.
Don’t open your inbox unless you’re planning on sending or replying to emails. Set a time in the morning and afternoon to check your email, and only check it at those times.
One of the reasons many of us have a ton of spam is because it’s time consuming to individually unsubscribe to emails we signed up for years ago. Therefore, we put off the task of doing it.
There are a number of programs out there that let you unsubscribe in bulk. Bite the bullet and find one that works for you or set a timer and commit to spending 10 minutes a day unsubscribing to email until you’re inbox is manageable.
Establish a Deal or Delete Rule
If you feel like you have to respond to every email, this rule is for you. You don’t have to reply to every email.
Establish a ‘deal or delete’ rule. When you open up an email, make yourself either deal with it or delete it. Those are your only two options. It’s likely that you’ll find yourself deleting many more emails than you ever thought you would.
Establish a Deal With it Now Rule
If you get a TON of email, and your inbox is bursting at the seams by the end of the week—or the end of the day—this is your rule. Set a rule that says if you open up your inbox, you have to get it to zero every single time. If you don’t have enough minutes to spare to do that, don’t open your inbox.
This will keep you from wasting 10-20 minutes every hour browsing your inbox instead of dealing with your messages.