A little help for those of us drowning in emails!
Picture this, you open your work email ID after the weekend, and it is flooded with emails you are cc’ed on, office circulars, meeting invites, spam and client correspondence to respond to. Suddenly, before you even start working, the overwhelming feeling of sheer exhaustion envelops you.
If this is something you can relate to, you aren’t alone. A survey conducted by the computer software company Adobe found that people spend 3.1 hours a day sending emails and checking their inbox in a year. This adds up to a shocking 20 weeks worth of work time spent on emails. If emails are holding you back from being productive at work, we have you covered! Here are a few tips on how you can manage a messy inbox.
Delete unnecessary emails
Not every email we receive warrants a response, and even the ones that do, you don’t have to keep them after you’ve responded to them. Being ruthless with emails that take up your precious inbox space can push you to respond in a more timely manner. Taking immediate action, whether it is to send a short response or delete the mail, can prevent your inbox from slowly filling up throughout the course of a day.
Label your emails
There are certain kinds of email correspondence (like reports and records) that cannot be deleted for the sake of creating less clutter. The best way to deal with these emails is to club them together. Different mailing systems have different labelling tools, like tags or folders, which help you sort through your emails and group them together under different categories. If your workplace uses Gmail, you can use its category system and create rules to automatically sort through your emails and put them under different categories (namely primary, social, promotions, updates and forums) for you. Gmail also has labels that you can further use to place all emails pertaining to a specific task together.
While making folders does seem like a perfect way to categorize emails in your inbox, not everyone is proactive enough to be able to sustain such a practice long-term. So for those of us who simply don’t have the time or energy to make folders, the best way to go about it is by archiving emails. This will effectively divide your inbox into two broad categories—emails that require your attention at some point (in the archive) and unread emails. The rest (if you have been following along with our tips!) will be deleted and forgotten.
Deal with all email subscriptions together
We are all guilty of hurriedly signing up for certain things and then getting sent newsletter after newsletter about topics that barely interest us. To solve this problem, you can use apps, like Unroll.Me, Leave Me Alone and Polymail’s Unsubscriber, to bulk-unsubscribe from a bunch of newsletters altogether. Out of all these applications, Unroll.Me also comes with a special feature where you can club together a bunch of newsletters and create a “daily rollup”. This feature collects various newsletters that you have subscribed and presents them in a single message. This can save you the time and effort of going through each of them individually.
Create email templates
Do you ever find yourself writing the same email over and over again for different people? The easiest way to avoid doing that is to keep templates ready in your drafts to be used as and when needed. If you don’t want to waste time doing all the prep work, don’t worry! Just enable canned responses in your inbox settings. Canned responses is an experimental feature of Google Labs that lets you compile a library of emails that you send frequently to reference when composing a mail. With some minor tweaks, you will have the email ready to go.
Now that you know what to do to keep your inbox clean in the future, it is important that you take out the time to start tidying things up. Research on digital clutter (hoarding emails or files) suggests that it can make one feel as stressed or overwhelmed as physical clutter.
To avoid this unnecessary stress, take time out to go through your inbox and delete emails that have been taking up unnecessary space. If you are unsure of whether to keep or delete an email, go back and refer to tips two and three on this list and decide whether you want to archive or label certain emails. Trust us, by the end of it, you’ll feel just as good as it feels to take in the cleanliness of a tidy house!
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