Is your email running your life? Here are five tips to help you manage your inbox so it doesn’t manage you.
Merge accounts: to the degree to which you are able to do so, to avoid having to check multiple inboxes.
Mute emails: when you are one of many on a distribution list. This way anyone who hits “reply all” won’t reach you.
Be an aggressive unsubscriber.
Delete immediately any email that does not require you to unsubscribe, respond or is basically just not important.
Sometimes it is sufficient to fit your message in just the subject line and leave the body of an email empty. Fight the urge to over-communicate and hopefully others will follow your lead.
Respond to everything within one day: any email that requires you to do anything besides delete immediately should be taken care of within 24 hours. After 24 hours people start to get annoyed and may send you more messages. It’s not always possible to make a full reply immediately, especially if it’s a low priority request that you can’t delegate. But when a request or notification is read, simply ask if they can connect with you the next day. By putting the onus on them, they’ll remind you or manage the problem themselves. If it’s something you really have to do, just type back, “I got this. Stay tuned.” Then flag it to deal with when you are ready.
Establish a routine: Set aside time during your day to focus on your inbox. Maybe you check and respond to emails for 30 minutes in the morning and then again for 30 minutes at the end of the day. Figure out the best time for you to manage your inbox and then stick to it so it doesn’t manage you.