Let Email Work For You, Not The Other Way Around

When it comes to email, we all know the basics. However, not everyone understands how to use email efficiently to prevent it from becoming a constant distraction or sometimes even an annoyance.

A few simple tips to help free yourself from email:

Schedule Time to Email

Think about your work email. Can you count on one hand how many times a day you check it? If you are like me, that’s not possible. With access to email now in your back pocket or even on your bedside table, it’s easy to check your email anywhere, anytime. Add to the fact that many email programs have email notifications and we are continuously tied to our email.

It’s time to gain your freedom from email. Try scheduling a couple times in the day to check and reply to your email. I would suggest morning and afternoon — just try not to schedule it first thing in the morning, so you can focus a bit in the morning on more challenging and productive tasks. The hardest part for me is NOT checking my email from my phone — especially first thing in the morning while still in bed.

Turn off email notifications

Notifications are everywhere these days. The world is so hyper-connected; it’s now almost too connected, with too much noise. Optimize your day and improve your focus by turning off your email notifications both on your desktop and mobile device.

It’s amazing what you can accomplish without constant interruptions.

How to reply

Even though people appreciate fast replies, it’s not generally expected. I have friends and co-workers whom all like to sit down and catch up on emails over the weekends, sometimes at 2AM. Do I think they want a quick reply, especially at the wee hours of the morning? Nope. Then, why would it be the same during business hours?

Tip: If you email someone and expect a quick reply, type when you need a reply in the subject line.

Set proactive guidelines

Setting guidelines for email replies may seem trivial, but it’s absolutely necessary in creating productive lines of communication. For example, a 24 hour window for replies, depending on your business, sets expectations for sending and receiving emails. You can also put your email guidelines in your signature. For example, state that you return emails within a certain time frame or if the matter is urgent, ask people to call you directly.

Also, if you don’t need a reply, and the email is for informative reasons only, try placing “FYI” in the subject line. That way people can read the email in a timely fashion without the expectation of needing to reply. In addition, if you do in fact need a reply within a certain time frame, state that either in your email or on the subject line.

Email is a part of our daily life. It’s time to make it work for us, not against our productivity.

I’d love to know what tactics and tools you use to help manage your emails. Let me know by commenting below.