Email is the most used communication tool today. However, managing email isn’t always easy. Have you ever felt stressed out about receiving too many emails? Right, you are not the only one.
As it is with anything we use constantly, when not well managed, emails get messy and it gets hard to find the information you want, stressing you out, and here we go again.
And while you consume hours and hours of your day to get your messy Inbox on track, more emails are coming in. And then you start feeling guilty if you’re not answering your messages.
Ok, let’s cool down.
Email does not have to be stressful, it’s just a tool invented to make your life easier. And it works for you, not the other way around. It’s time for you to take the grip and command your inbox!
So in this article, I’ll be showing how you can make use of tools and ideas in order to simplify your life and make the most of your email.
Clean up. Always.
You won’t know where to go if you don’t know where you are. Start your work by decluttering what you already have. Separate your emails into folders, delete and archive what you don’t need, as they come. I spoke about organizing your email in this article.
An inbox with fewer messages helps you focus on what truly matters. Start decluttering your messages today and I bet you’ll see a difference.
Personally, it makes my day when all my messages fit on one single screen, so my email inbox doesn’t have a scrollbar. Every time I have to scroll down to find something it feels like I have to clean up. Of course, you don’t need to get obsessed with it, but accept this challenge and see what changes for you.
Clean up, and while you do so, also think about how more productive you will become. Have you ever heard of Inbox Zero? Basically, it’s a method in which you keep your inbox empty — or as close to it as possible — at all times. It is worth the try.
Of course, you don’t have to become an email-freak, but keep in mind that with the less you have, the most you’ll achieve with your productivity.
Define clear timeframes.
Okay, everything is clean and tidy! It even feels like it’s a new email.
— Oh, wait, a new email!
— Another one!
Don’t rush. A key to being stress-free is changing your mood and behavior towards email.
A rule adopted by many is “no email before noon”. It means it, yeah. Turn off notifications on your phone/computer and only open your email after lunch.
— But what if it’s something urgent?
It will find a way to you, trust me. When something is truly urgent, someone will call, send a text or even show up to tell you.
However, I know this rule isn’t meant for everyone, so start slowly. Open your email, answer what’s urgent, and maybe even answer messages that require less than 5 minutes of your time, and then you can adapt your change step by step. The most important is getting awareness on how you are spending your time and, most importantly, how to improve it.
Regarding non-urgent emails, set due dates on when you plan to have them sorted. That’s a great way to have the control of your Inbox back. Remember: your Inbox works for you, not the other way around. You can organize your emails in timeframes in two ways:
1. Simply organize them into folders or tags to categorize your messages, for example, “To reply tomorrow”, “To reply next week”, etc. It’s up to you.
2. Use tools such as Drag to assign specific dates to each email, and make it visible on the email itself.
Leverage Email Rules.
Although the majority of users probably don’t know much about it, Gmail has a system of rules, which work for you automatically, saving your time and mindfulness.
For instance, if you receive a message, but you were just cc’ed, Gmail can automatically add it to a specific folder, even skipping your Inbox, or add a label to this message, so you know this might not be so important.
To do so, it is quite simple:
1. Go to the Search box on Gmail
2. Click the Down Arrow button, and then “Create filter with this search“. A window will appear and so you can define the criteria you want for your rule
3. Click Create Filter
And it’s done!
Take it seriously, but not too serious.
Many people get stressed out at email because they take too long to write a message — that is actually very common. People sometimes overthink email and it only makes the situation worse.
And it’s like a snowball going down a mountain, the more nervous you are, the less able you become to keep writing, so you get more and more nervous.
The key to success on this is: don’t take it too seriously.
Email is a tool for communication, and because nowadays everybody gets bombarded with many messages, it is very reasonable that you do your part and write smaller emails, just with the necessary.
By doing so, you’re contributing not only for other people to spend less time on their inboxes but also for your message to be answered faster.
Also, you can create templates for your emails, so you can only adjust the specific information and save time. Tools such as ReplyUp, MixMax or Yesware can make this job automated for you and your company, saving a whole lot of time and gaining even more power over email.
Bring your email productivity to a whole new level.
Will regular tools work better for you when you change your mindset? Yes.
But do you want to bring your email productivity to another level? By adding productivity tools to your email, you’re catalyzing your speed and doing even more work in less time. One way I find very simple to maximize my email potentialities is converting it to a Kanban view, a feature offered here at Drag.
When I do it, my messages become tasks and it gets easier to visually understand in which stage they are, which leads me to a quicker action.
Furthermore, you gain lots of other features to empower your work, such as due dates, checklists, notes, shared boards and many other features that will definitely make your email stress-free.
Drag works in a very simple way, your emails become cards, so you can drag and drop through lists and organize both emails and tasks, altogether, as you want.
You can add labels to your cards, so every task belongs somewhere. Here are some other features you can add to your cards:
- Responsible person on the team;
- Due date;
- Progress bar.
And don’t forget it’s still your email inbox, so for any support pending an answer is one click away from composing an email. And you can even collaborate with your team, which means that you can have shared boards, so your team can work together while you track it in one single place.
What is the conclusion?
Can email be stressful? Definitely yes.
However, if you make use of the right behaviours and tools, you’ll manage it much easier, and your peace of mind will come along. So don’t forget to clean up as much as possible and let the machines do everything you can automate, from tags to templates, and even new ways to see your actual inbox.
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