There’s a butt–load of these kind of blog posts around the web. In fact, I’ve even written a few of these myself.
But as I read Tim Challies’ recent post on 8 Email Mistakes You Make, I was reminded of a few email strategies that I’ve let slide a little. It was great to have a refresher!
So, despite the fact that the Internet is full of email strategies already, let me throw these ten at you—and if it seems repetitive—consider it a refresher.
We all can use a refresher.
10 Ways to Make Email Awesome
1. Keep It Closed
Crazy, I know. Keeping your email closed can greatly boost your productivity, especially if you can have the self control to keep it closed first thing in the morning. Email can be a huge distraction, so keep it closed!
2. Separate It
I’ve found that keeping all five of my email accounts in separate Gmail accounts works best. My personal, ChurchMag, Live Theme, etc… are all separate. I know some people who set-up one Gmail account and have it sort their email for them, so they keep it more centralized. That doesn’t work for me, but the concept is still the same. Divide and conquer!
3. Be Proactive
You get to your computer first thing in the morning. You open your email, click through them, scan a few, read a few more, you get the idea. In most cases, you end up re-opening and re-reading emails when replying later in the day. This is bad news. The goal is to hit “Inbox Zero” or at least down to three or four. Be proactive and deal with each email as you open it. Does it need to be filed? Labeled? Added to a to-do list? Replied? Whatever it is, do it until your inbox is empty.
4. Don’t Use It During “Prime Time”
Back to the morning illustration, again. Don’t open your email during your best work hours. Schedule two (maybe three) times per day that you dedicate to email, but don’t use your best work time! Nobody is going to recognize your stellar email responses, but they will notice that project you’re suppose to be working on. Save your best work time for your best work.
5. Use It for Communicating, Not To-Do Lists
Guilty. I quite doing this once I became addicted to my to-do list apps. Before that, I would use my email as a to-do list and it was a nightmare to deal with. It’s funny how we can get trapped in our own bad habits and workflows. I am grateful I stopped doing this!
Don’t email about grandpa dying. Don’t email about emergencies. Don’t email when communication is crucial. Email was never meant for high priority communication, so don’t use it that way! Plus, it will help you with the urge to habitually check for responses.
7. Remove Notifications
And that leads us to this tidbit. I used to have a notifier, until I realized that split second my notification would catch my eye cost me my concentration. Besides, if I’m using email for medium and low priority communication and I’ve set aside specific times to work through my email, knowing that I’ve received an email is useless information.
8. Stop Replying to Everything
“Thanks!” they say. If you were really thankful, you won’t have forced me to waste time opening and deleting your email. This isn’t face to face, this isn’t a handwritten note, this is email. Email has a different set of etiquette rules that Emily Post could never comprehend.
9. Use Other Forms of Communication
If you’re having a hard time composing an email, it’s probably because you shouldn’t be emailing. Have you heard of phones? Video chat? Instant messaging? Direct messaging? Email isn’t always the best, nor the only, form of communication, so stop acting like it is.
10. Don’t Rely on Email Strategy Lists Like This
Don’t be afraid to try new things, but don’t be afraid to stick to your guns. It’s more important to learn what works for you than follow a stupid list like this for the sake of using a stupid list like this. Workflows change, preferences change and even job responsibilities change over time. Don’t be afraid to try new things and don’t be afraid to stick with what works.
How do you make email more awesome?