An estimated 108.7 billion emails get sent daily. About 40 man hours are lost each year to email overload. Add to this that email overload is one of the biggest workplace hindrances when it comes to managing our day to day.
It’s possible to push through the email grind and come up on top by actually hacking emails to boost productivity. Here’s how you can do that.
The Three Things You’re Doing Wrong
There’s absolutely no reason you should be checking every email that comes through in your inbox. Yet, most employees say they feel pressured to respond to emails quickly – particularly those in fast-paced office environments like tech, new media and start-ups. It doesn’t have to be this way and in fact it shouldn’t be this way and it causes several problems if that’s how you’re going about your day.
First, if you’re checking every email that comes, you’re distracting yourself from that’s ahead of you and letting someone else dictate what the priority is. Second, checking everything at once means you’re also more likely to let an email slip through the cracks. Just because you’ve checked it, doesn’t mean you’ve handled it. Third, you’re setting clients and colleagues up for very high and unrealistic expectations. You’re training them for instant gratification and acting in servitude, coming running to them whenever they ring the proverbial bell. It’s ridiculous. Stop doing it.
Two Things You can do if Your Workplace is Email Obsessed
If you’re in an environment where email response time is crucial or you’re always on the look- out for emails from certain senders, there’s a couple things you can do to manage your time better.
First, set up email pop-up notifications on your desktop or phone. I prefer having the pop up on my phones so they’re appearing on a clean uninterrupted slate. Personally, I have too much going on on my monitor and so pop ups there are still likely to get lost. You’ll be able to see streamlined messages popping up on your phone, allowing you to ignore what you don’t need for a later time and respond to what is more urgent.
If everything tends to be urgent in that company culture demands a faster response, then shoot out a little response that lets people know you’ve seen the email but will follow through later including asking any questions you might have. This way, you’ve done your due diligence but you also haven’t wasted brain cells trying to jump on this task right now. Shelve it for later in your project management tool such as Wrike. You can have a task each day just for email requests and have a bullet list or checkbox of what needs to get responded to. Once you’ve checked it off and better understood the task, you can project plan for that task accordingly in a master calendar.
There’s a lot of pressure to not only reply immediately but to also get it done immediately. Stop that too. You can’t get it all done as soon as you or anyone else would look. Learn to always look to your project management big picture before committing yourself. That said, there’s still a better third option.
Use Email Autoresponders to Segment Your Day
Set up a daily autoresponder to trigger from 6am till about 2pm. Have that responder message say that you’ll be checking emails from about 2pm-4pm (or whatever time works for you). Add that for anything urgent, you can be called at a certain number or reached out to in some other preferred way. You can also add that you’re doing this for the sake of productivity so you’re able to take advantage of as much working time as possible. This solution makes everyone happy: senders know what’s going on, you’ve responded immediately, and you’re not interrupted by emails until you choose to be interrupted.