Email is often seen as the nemesis of productivity in the workplace. But before you jump on the bandwagon and accuse email of sparking the plague, let’s see if there isn’t a trick or two you could use to manage your email properly and get things done!
1. MANAGE YOUR GRAYMAIL
Firstly, let’s define what graymail is… Graymail is the term used to describe the email you subscribed to (website updates, newsletter, …) but that you don’t want to receive daily and may even perceive as spam.
Even with a good management system that filters graymail to specific folders, most of us still can’t help ourselves and waste time checking the messages out.
So, before you subscribe to the newsletter of a company you are interested in, make sure you really want to receive email from them (there are many other sources for the same information, such as Twitter, Google +, Facebook and RSS). It might also be wise to check their email frequency .
2. TURN OFF NOTIFICATIONS
When we see notifications we feel an uncontrollable urge to go and see what it’s about in case it is something important. This classic human response has a name, a phenomenon called Fear Of Missing Out, or FOMO.
When you are working on a boring task the little blinking light on your phone or the changing icon on your computer tabs are suddenly very attractive – they appeal to the procrastinator in all of us, providing an escape from what we were doing.
Guess what? Your email is not going anywhere. You will always be able to check it later. So, stop multitasking and turn off notifications.Instead, allocate specific times to check your email during the day. For example, when you arrive at your office and right after lunch. This way you’ll stay on top of your inbox without being disturbed every minute.
3. YOUR EMAIL IS NOT A TO-DO LIST
Don’t treat your inbox as a “to-do list”, it simply doesn’t work.Your to-do list is likely prioritised and sorted… Maybe even with side notes. But your email just keeps arriving and you’ll end up with a bunch of starred/flagged/marked items at the bottom of your inbox that will never make it to your actual work priorities.
Read through your email, make a task out of it with relevant information if you need to and don’t go back to it.There are number of tools available that can help you get organised with a to-do list, and, worst case scenario, a scrap of paper and a pen will do the job just fine. So use your email how it is intended – for communicating, and everything should be easier.
4. CHOOSE THE RIGHT EMAIL CLIENT
There is no universally perfect email client. It all depends on the way you work, the number of messages you receive, the devices you use, and so many other factors.
Choosing the right native client requires you to invest time and effort in trialing several products to find the one that best fits your needs. Some general recommendations are:
IT MUST BE INTUITIVE AND EASY TO USE.
If you have to waste too much time learning how to drive the app, chances are your productivity won’t increase at all.Similarly, if your client has too many features & customization options to play with, you might end up spending more time changing the colours of each folder than getting things done.
IT MUST BE EASY TO ORGANISE.
Without pursuing the “inbox zero” goal, having a neat and clean inbox makes it easier to focus on what’s coming in without feeling overwhelmed. Don’t over do it though or you might spend more time organising than doing.
IT MUST BE USABLE ON EVERY DEVICE.
Having to switch between several clients when you change device is a waste of time as it requires you to learn new habits and to adapt yourself. Synchronisation is king – it will allow you to check your email no matter where you are keeping you on top of things.