I was inspired by today’s NYTimes to circle back on my productivity tips related to the email deluge that hits your email box each day. If you are suffering through a mountain of email, here are some quick pointers to slay the mountain.
- Maintain separate email addresses for separate purposes. My Dell.com email is strictly for Dell. I use my gmail account for all subscriptions. My personal email is just that. When I am looking in my inbox I am looking with purpose and less likely to get distracted.
- Create rules related to the people that matter. If I get an email from Michael or Mark, it glows red.
- Create rules for all cc. mail. The vice of many an office politician, cc. is an annoyance for the most part. So, all my cc. mail goes into a read later bucket.
- Look at your email 2-3 times a day max. Never engage in email ping pong if it can be avoided. Outlook isn’t a game. By focusing your time on email you will motor through it faster, spending less time on correspondence that doesn’t matter. “Mencken’s 100,000 letters serve as inspiration: we can handle more e-mail than we think we can, but should do so by attending to it only infrequently, at times of our own choosing.”
- Create automated responses. I use my signatures for this. I’m old school believing all email worthy of some response. So, I have a ton of standardized responses. I don’t need to type “sure, I’d like to meet. I’m snowed for the next week by Debora can work a time for us to connect” dozens of times a week. So, it’s a signature file.
- Identify if an email is a task, reading assignment, or quick action. If it is a task and you are using Outlook, drag it to your tasks folder and make a task out of it. If a reading assignment, drag to a reading folder for when you do have time to read. If a quick action, action and delete.
- Empty your inbox each day. Never, ever, leave it full and aging.
- When on vacation, designate a colleague to scan and delete email. If you have a full box on your return, look at the emails glowing read (see 2.) and delete the rest. Trust me, if it is that important, they will bug you again.
- There are plenty of other great thoughts over at lifehacker and other blogs.