Do you ever feel that your technology is ruling you? That you have become a slave to the constant barrage of emails, texts, phone calls, voicemails, etc.? Duh! The other day a high level executive confided to me that he had already received over 1000 emails that week and it was only Wednesday. Here are some tips that will help give you more control over email and your life.
- Rules—both Outlook and Gmail offer easy to set up “rules” that act as traffic cops for emails that you receive. You can set them up to send certain emails directly to trash or to a file folder/category that you can look at later when you have the time. You can set them up to color code emails from certain key people that you want to make sure you see ahead of all the others. Rules are intuitive for the most part and not difficult for the rest. Explore.
- Unsubscribe—these days if you buy anything online or read articles you are bound to be subscribed to a newsletter or advertisement you never wanted to see. You can individually “unscubsribe” through a link at the bottom of most of these or you can use a service like rollmeup.com. Either way you can eliminate a lot of the emails that clog your inbox.
- Stop Using your Inbox as a To Do List—many people leave emails in their inbox as reminders. This is a bad use of the tool; it’s not what it was designed for and you end up with hundreds of emails to sort through regularly. Instead, either set up a folder called To Do and move them there or, better still, add them to your actual To Do list or calendar and delete the email.
- Reduce the Need for CC/BCC—let your team know what you do and do not want to be copied on. About 1/3 of the emails most managers and executives receive are things that someone wanted to make sure you knew about that you didn’t have need to know about. My assistant sends me an email at the end of the day summarizing what she has done rather than copy me on everything. The result is that many emails don’t even arrive and that’s the goal.
- Pick up the Phone—many emails could be avoided altogether with a quick phone call or IM. We opt for email too quickly out of habit or convenience. However, every email you send invites more emails to come to you in return.
There are other ideas that have been used with great success. Remember, the basic premise to get control of your emails is to stop them at their root—don’t receive them!