According to research, the average person spends 28% of their working week dealing with email and we need just over one whole minute to recover from every message.
If you’re billing by the hour, then time really is money. So, with inboxes overflowing on a daily basis, here are my top tips for keeping on top of it all.
Check Emails at Certain Points in the Day
It’s well known that email overload can create a high stress alert response in the human body but we’re often at the beck and call of our inboxes, so what can we start doing differently?
I wholly agree with Tim Ferris and the Four Hour Work Week approach of only going into the inbox at certain times of the day to bulk read and action items to save time and sanity. Admittedly, I go in more frequently than twice a day, but as long as expectations in terms of response times are managed in advance, this approach can work very well.
Establish a System That Works for You
When it comes to inbox organisation, there just isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach and there is an element of trial and error.
Some people prefer to use rules to divert incoming mails straight to specific folders.
Others like to keep items in the inbox and manually move items to a sub-folder at a later date.
Many don’t care about inbox zero and keep everything uncategorised.
Then there are colour-coded flags you could add to determine whether an action is needed or to highlight an item remains pending.
There really isn’t a wrong, right or best way so it’s a case of trialling all of the above or use a combination to find something that works for you.
Personally, I have everything come into my inbox (Gmail) and use labels to categorise items from regular senders so they can easily be found and identified. I tend to deal with action items straight away and mark emails as ‘pending’ if I’m waiting for someone else to respond before I can move forward.
Create a Secondary Email Account for Subscriptions
It’s important to me to keep my primary inbox solely for client-related items to increase time efficiencies and minimise unnecessary distraction.
Therefore, signing up for a secondary email account with Gmail (freebie version) and using that for all of my subscriptions was mentioned in my blog post about becoming an inbox hero and is possibly one of my biggest time-saving tips.
And yet I didn’t expect to feel as though checking a comparatively unimportant inbox on a regular basis would be an unnecessary time suck.
So, I then created a forwarding rule within the secondary email account meaning mails go straight to my primary inbox.
But then I didn’t want subscription mails clogging up my main inbox as that defeats the whole point.
Therefore, I created a rule in my primary inbox which now marks anything from my secondary email address as read and diverts it to a ‘subscriptions’ sub-folder.
I now have access to all non-urgent/important emails through my primary account, but I’m never going to be annoyed by the unnecessary email ping of something that doesn’t need my attention.
Out of the Office Notifications
If you’re away from the desk for an extended period of time, hopefully people would know to pick up the phone if they have an urgent request, but it’s always useful to manage response time expectations by adding an out of office notification.
Include a note about whether you’re happy for people to contact you on your mobile or the details of a secondary person who can be reached if urgent assistance is needed.
Close Your Inbox When It’s Not in Use
However frequently you check your inboxes, close out of your accounts in between so distractions are minimised and focus can be wholly on the task at hand.
If you’d like to discover other time-saving tricks that can work for you, contact me for a free consultation to discuss your requirements.