10 Inbox Management Tips

10 Inbox Management Tips

Did you know that people can spend up to 13 hours a week managing their email inbox?

This amounts to almost 30% of the work week or 16 weeks a year.

Here are 10 tips designed to help you optimize the time spent reading and sorting your emails.

1. Lights. Camera. Action!

Every time you open a new email, perform an action:

  • Reply
  • Forward
  • Approve
  • Clarify
  • Archive

Best to bite the bullet and process emails as you open them.

That way, you can immediately prioritize them.

In Outlook, avoid simply dumping them into the Unread Mail folder. Not only will you be postponing the inevitable, you’ll also be doing things twice: re-reading and taking action again. There’s no avoiding it!

2. Inbox Cleaning

Cleaning your inbox is reducing the number of unread emails.

If you must archive, then create a sorting system that will help you easily find what you’re looking for.

When an email sits in your inbox for too long, it means that the action taken didn’t have the desired result.

3. Take Your Time (but hurry up!)

Set aside 45 minutes or so each day to inbox management rather than process emails as they come in.

Always stopping what you’re doing just to open an email wreaks havoc on your concentration.

4. Notifications Denied

Aural and visual notifications are unnecessary sources of interruption and disruption.

Turn them off and you’ll be more productive.

Also consider closing your inbox when you need all your concentration.

5. Unwanted Solicitation

Send emails only to those concerned by its contents.

Before clicking Send, ask yourself these questions:

  • What is the purpose of the email? Do I need someone’s advice or approval?
  • Is now the best time or can it go to later?
  • Does this person need to know?

Remember, long email chains have a nasty habit of polluting inboxes—yours and everyone else’s.

6. Call or Videochat?

When all you need is a quick answer or when there’s no need to have something in writing, consider calling or video chatting.

Use emails only when you need to reach out to more than one person.

7. Instant messaging

When you don’t need an immediate answer, send an instant message. The person will reply at their earliest convenience.

You’ll also avoid creating email chains.

8. Be Brief

Write short, concise emails. You should be able to summarize your ideas in two sentences.

Easier said than done?

Try avoiding superfluous verbiage like adverbs and adjectives. Remember: subject-verb-predicate and one idea per paragraph.

Pro Tip:

Try fitting your email on the Subject line. This will force you to use as few words as possible. You can always clarify your statements in the message.

9. Salutations

Stick to the classics.

Longwinded phrases, strings of emoticons and ambiguously disingenuous praise can annoy.

10. Avoid Over-punctuation and ALL CAPS!

Don’t end every line with an exclamation point. This won’t make the content more important.

Writing in all caps not only makes the text difficult to read, but it will give an aggressive tone to your words.

Other ideas?

Do you have your own inbox management tips? Share them!