Email has done wonders to save us time in communicating with others, but it's one of the top reasons we lose productivity at home and work. To retake control of your time, here are 4 ways to manage your email inbox and behaviors, making you more productive throughout the day.
- Stop checking it. Make it a rule to not check your email first thing in the morning, first thing at work, or multiple times throughout the day. Start small: promise to not look at your email within the first hour of waking up or at work. This can help save you time by re-prioritizing your work over distracting or low priority emails.
- Segment your emails with rules. Color-coding, flagging, or separating emails is a great way to stay on top of important emails and stop becoming distracted by others. Gmail automatically filters your emails with its Priority inbox and filters, but if you don't use Gmail, most email clients have a way for you to set up filters.
- Clean up your inbox. Like a cluttered work desk or a home, a cluttered inbox can slow down productivity. But keeping your inbox cleaned can help you find important emails and updates through the clutter. Try to delete emails as they appear or age after a certain point: if some emails can't be deleted at once, spend once a week or once a month looking through emails and deleting them. That can also help you identify emails that should be saved elsewhere.
- Unsubscribe from email lists. Do you still receive emails from sign-up lists that you don't have time to read? If you don't want to read them anymore, unsubscribe from those lists. Unsubscribing should take only a minute or less. For those you still have interest in, consider getting a second email address just for those email subscriptions, such as news feeds, promotional offers, and more, to check at a different time. This can help you keep your work email separated from emails of own personal interest.
By applying these strategies to manage your email, you'll find more free time to do what you need to get done. For more information on this and related topics, visit the Productivity and Career Advice section of our blog.
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