We all spend way too much time in our email inbox – the average office worker receives 121 emails per day. In order to sort through the clutter and work effectively, it’s essential to find ways to increase productivity. Here are 15 email hacks to maximize productivity this year:
1. Turn off Your Notifications
If you implement nothing else on this list, this is the hack you’ll want to remember.
Each interruption caused by a notification is a major productivity killer. Turn off desktop, phone, and any other notifications you may have, and enjoy the sense of relief.
2. Create “Email Only” Windows for Each Day
Try scheduling “email only” windows every day during which you check and answer emails. Rather than dip in and out during the day, you’ll have a few set times when you allow yourself to work on your emails.
You can adjust this over time depending on how many emails you get and what works for you, but the important thing is that you set aside time when you can focus solely on email and avoid being distracted from other tasks.
3. Use Templates for Maximum Efficiency
Most people who spend a lot of their time in their email inboxes find that they are sending similar emails regularly. Identify the responses that you send the most and turn them into templates that can be easily adjusted and personalized.
Right Inbox has a handy email templates feature for this. When you apply this technique, it’s easy to build up dozens of useful templates over a few months – and the time you save can be incredible.
4. Learn Email Shortcuts
Don’t go crazy and try to learn all of them. Find the shortcuts that apply to you and keep them on a piece of paper next to your keyboard. You’ll find that you can learn the ones that save you time incredibly quickly.
You can find some useful shortcuts for Gmail here.
5. Unsubscribe From Junk Mail
We all receive daily emails that we don’t really need. If you don’t open emails that companies send you any longer, then unsubscribe. Take a few hours a month to go through and unsubscribe from as many as possible.
If you want to go one step further, you can use a service like unroll.me to make it even easier to unsubscribe. Unroll helps you tame your inbox by identifying the emails you might want to unsubscribe from and enables you to do so in one click.
6. Deal With Emails That Only Take 2 Minutes of Your Time Right Away
If an email comes in that you can deal with it in less than 2 minutes, then deal with it then and there. It’s far more productive than having to read it a second time and handle it later.
Setting rules like this also helps save you time by eliminating the need to think about whether to deal with it now or later – if it will take less than 2 minutes, you do it, and move on.
7. Make Folders Work for You
Create a system that works for you – for example, use color coding and folder names like “Requires Response” or “No Action Needed.” By creating a color-coded and named system, you’ll make your inbox easier to scan and save yourself hours every month.
8. Invest in a Text Expander
Do you find yourself writing out the same words or giving similar advice a lot of the time? Invest in a text expander like Phrase Express, which will help you write them out more efficiently.
9. Don’t Worry About Inbox Zero
Developed by Merlin Mann, Inbox Zero is meant to help you gain control of your email inbox. In reality, creating a system for tackling email as it comes in is far more efficient than trying to reach an ever-moving end goal. Ditch Inbox Zero.
10. Batch Your Inbox
If you find it hard to stick to times for checking email as mentioned in hack 2, then you may want to try this hack. It will batch emails together and only send them at the times that you request.
11. Create Recurring Emails
Many of us send the same email every week or month – think meeting agendas, invoices, and similar repetitive emails. Right Inbox has a great feature that allows you to set up these emails and send them out at designated times.
12. Triage Your Email
Emails, like most other work tasks, have differing levels of urgency or importance. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by your filling inbox, go through and prioritize which emails need to be addressed immediately, and which can wait. Then, deal with whatever is urgent and schedule the rest so you don’t forget about them.
13. Set Up Email Reminders
Speaking of forgetting, when you receive tons of email every day, it’s easy to let things slip. Use Right Inbox’s Email Reminder feature to allow emails to pop back up in your inbox at the time that is appropriate for answering or sending that all-important email.
14. Monitor Your Emails for Tone
One of the most significant issues with email is that it can be hard to detect tone, and emails can become long threads as people explain what it is they really meant. Use the Grammarly plugin, to not only check your spelling and grammar, but also that you have the right tone of voice for your emails.
15. Don’t Use Words That Undermine Your Message
Using Grammarly to check for spelling, grammar, and tone is great, but this plugin goes one step further. Just Not Sorry scans for trigger words that may undermine your message. It might not appear on many popular email hacks posts, but the way you write and how you use language can save hours of back and forth on email chains.
Keeping your email under control is key to maximizing your productivity. While this list is a good starting point, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, so it’s important to try out different techniques to find what works best for you.
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David Campbell is the editor of the Right Inbox blog. He is passionate about email productivity and getting more done in less time.