I’m old enough that I remember when email first began to be commonly used. We thought it was so exciting. You could communicate with others instantly!! You could send things electronically and people could see them in color instead of the fuzzy fax! We could archive previous emails and have a record of our correspondence. It truly was an amazing technological achievement.
Fast forward to today, and dealing with the number of emails is one of the chief complaints that I hear. How do you keep up with the volume?!
A few common-sense suggestions:
- Make it part of the culture never to send emails that just acknowledge receipt of the previous email (i.e. “Thanks!”). No one will miss them and it will go a long way in reducing the sticker shock of seeing so many emails in your inbox.
- Be far more judicious than you are with the use of “Reply All.” Before you hit send, consider if even one person could be left off your email chain.
- Schedule things in advance to avoid all the “email tag” of going back and forth with options.
- Be intentional about your subject line, including ACTION REQUIRED or FYI.
- Utilize rules, folders and flags to help you manage the volume.
- Unsubscribe from any email subscription or newsletter that you don’t read within a day of receiving it.
- Consider establishing a separate email address to use with vendors and promotions – places where you know you’ll be receiving follow-up solicitations or advertisements after giving your email – and let those go to a separate inbox that you can ignore or make a low priority.
- Pick up the phone! If the subject is complicated, it will save you time to have a two-way conversation instead of a string of emails back and forth.
- Create Quick Parts or templates to help you more easily reply to standard requests so you are able to reply and delete the original email quickly.
- Hold tight. The election is just around the corner and, if your inbox is anything like mine, the volume will decrease significantly when you are no longer bombarded with political ads.
How have you tamed your inbox monster? Share your tips in the comments and help others learn to see email as the gift it is instead of a burden.