How to Stay On Top Of Your Emails

Like them or loath them, emails are here to stay!  People thought that live chat software and messaging apps such as What’s App and Telegram would finish off email for good, but lately email has made a comeback!

The reason why e-mail has stuck around so long is that you can send more messages off faster than you can a quick phone call, but also keep a record which is date and time stamped of what was said and when.

Email is just great for non-urgent communication or for requesting a journey a few days in advance.  It can also be a great tool for following up and getting a quick overview of previous ‘conversations’ or for quickly sending documents and images across.

The problem though with email is that there is just so much of it and it’s sometimes very difficult to keep tabs on a thread of actions or to do items which need to occur.  Some people get so many emails they even come to dread opening their email inbox and constant email notifications have been shown to increase stress levels and anxiety in workers.  It’s also the fear of missing out and that instant response world we now all live in that just increase that sense of dread.

So what can you do to stay on top of your emails and gain a sense of calm?  Well there are some very simple things you can do.  Why not try some of these:

Create folders

In your email management system (be it something like Outlook or Gmail for example), you can create folders (or labels as they’re called in Gmail).  Here you can collect items for storage, a bit like how a bin collects rubbish, you can use folders as mini inboxes to keep up on things.  Here’s some great folder titles to create:

1) Needs Reply: Maybe when you open the email you can’t reply right away, in which case, just pop it in this folder and set a reminder to reply to your emails later when you have been through your inbox

2) Waiting For: Sometimes you’re waiting for a reply from someone.  With this folder you can just leave what you sent in here and then look it up and chase anything which you have not had a reply on.

3) To Do: Here you can drop any email which has a To Do or action item in it.  This way you can just go straight to the folder and pick your action emails!

4) Reference: Anything you think you might need to refer to later you can just dump in here.  You can then use the global search to lookup any subject titles or content words to quickly access what you might need.

Add Emojis to Your Key Folders

Just adding an emoji to your key folders for filing means they will stand out more than say your average folders.  This means your eye will focus quickly on the folders you use most.  If you’re stuck for where to find emojis just visit https://emojipedia.org/ and copy the emoji into the start of the folder name.

Only Open Your Email When You Are Able to Take Action

Essentially, touch your emails once.  If you’re not able to respond to an email or in a place to move it into somewhere else to take action, then wait until you are able to do so.  People waste on average 2.5 hours on email every day in the workplace from either looking for emails to refer back to or opening and reopening them before taking action.

Throw it Away

Anything which you don’t need to pop into the reference folder ask yourself, do you really need it?  Some people have even gone to extreme lengths with this and when they’re on holiday literally deleted any out of office reply messages so that when they come back from holiday their inbox is empty.  I don’t suggest you do this, but the point is, is that email important?  If so, file it by popping it in a folder for safe keeping.

Schedule a Time to Check Your Emails

Unless your job is constant customer support, why not schedule a time to read your emails in the day such as 10am, 1230 and 4pm?  This way you’re not constantly tied to your emails and you can also let people know when they might be likely to receive a reply.

Turn Off Notifications

Concentration is a muscle, the more distracted you get by constant alerts the less you can focus.  Why not try turning off your email notifications, including the badge total numbers on your phone and see how much calmer you feel – trust me, it works though its scary at first!

If the Subject Changes, Change the Subject Title

How often do you find yourself looking for an email that you can no longer find?  The reason for this is that very often the conversation / email kicked off about work tasks an event or passenger issue and then turned into a discussion about the latest hit on Netflix or latest news on Brexit or funding status.  If the subject of the email changes, just change the subject title when you reply.  You’ll save hours when you come to look for that email in the future, especially if you filed it for safe keeping.

Hopefully these tips will help you keep on top of those emails and feel less stressed in dealing with them.  If you have any other ideas just let us know!

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