When you’re trying to knuckle down and get some work
done, there’s often no end to the number of distractions that can break your
workflow: tea round duties, office gossip – and that’s before you’ve even
opened your inbox.
Emails might seem
like they’ve made office life easier but they can be a major
cause of stress due to the sheer number of messages we receive and
the demands within them. Learning how to organise and manage this daily influx
is an important step in creating a
stress-free work environment but making sure you don’t miss anything can be a
daunting task. Read on for our top hacks for streamlining your email.
Cut out the noise
One of the worst things about a full inbox is not knowing
what lies ahead of you. The first step is cutting out any noise that stops you
from finding the important, useful, or urgent emails buried in there.
from those newsletters you never quite get around to reading. Turn off social media email notifications
– you most likely check these when you log-in to Twitter and the like anyway,
so you don’t need them via email too.
Set some rules
Not everything that comes into your inbox needs to be in
your inbox. Most email platforms,
like Gmail or Outlook, will allow you to set
up rules to filter certain emails into specific or dedicated folders that
you can check when you have the time.
when to use email rules? Here are some examples to get you
- Newsletters you do actually read when you
- Important but non-urgent notifications you
need to receive
- Company-wide emails
- Information that doesn’t require action from
you, say regular updates or reports from colleagues
- Non-work related emails from a partner or
Deal with the small things first
Although some people will tell you to ignore your emails
for the first hour of the day, by answering
the small emails you’ll kick your day off with a sense of accomplishment
that can put you in the perfect frame of mind for tackling bigger tasks later
on. Besides, if you in you are in a client-facing or customer-facing role, you
can’t exactly ignore them!
Begin by replying to everything that can be replied to
easily, moving anything that doesn’t require action out of your inbox and flagging
up everything else to come back to when you’re able to focus on the task.
Make your inbox zero
In a busy inbox, trying to find an email you need is not
going to happen efficiently. Rather than waste precious minutes trying, get
into the habit of moving emails out of your inbox as soon as possible (and into
their relevant subfolders). Always aiming for an empty inbox will keep the urgent
ones clearly visible.
The “inbox zero method” also helps
prevent that overwhelming feeling that hinders your productivity and causes
your blood pressure to rise.
How many times a day do you find yourself typing the
words ‘Looking forward to hearing your thoughts…’ or ‘It’s your turn to make
the tea…’? Maybe the last one is just in our office, but these sentences eat up
valuable moments of your time.
Automate your most common sentences via an auto
text tool. To use this feature in outlook, add ‘AutoText’ to your email toolbar. You
can then add your most common sentences by typing them out, selecting with your
mouse, and clicking on ‘Save Selection to AutoText Gallery’. They’ll then be
stored and ready to pop into emails as and when you need them!
Avoid silly mistakes
When you’re trying to get a task done quickly, it’s easy
to rush and make mistakes – mistakes that can take yet more time to clear up!
When you’re writing an email, don’t add the email address in until after you’ve written the draft.
This will avoid accidentally sending too soon and wasting time sorting it out.
Don’t double up
You may have your work email synced with your phone out of
perceived necessity, but ask yourself – is it really necessary?
If not, uninstall it. You will be doing everyone a favour
since your brain will be able to switch off during out-of-office hours,
allowing you to be rested and more focused when you’re needed.
If it is required of you for your job, at least make sure you don’t receive work email
notifications on your phone during the working day when you are also receiving
them on your computer as double the distraction will equal double the stress.
receive a high volume of emails then, even after you’ve filtered through your
inbox, a sea of red flags won’t tell you very much about what needs doing next
or what different emails mean.
This is where
colour coding can be your best friend
email system based on the
‘Action Method’ is the best we’ve seen yet. To implement it, choose a different
colour to highlight each of the following:
= Urgent emails with actions you need to take right away
= Non-urgent emails that do require an action or follow up from you
= Emails where someone else has a task to do but require no action from you
= Emails that contain information but require no action from you
Don’t add to the problem
We’re all guilty of sending email instead of picking
up the phone or talking face to face. Why
not break the mould and take a tea (or coffee!) break with a colleague to
run through an idea or give them an update?
How do you keep on top of your inbox? Share your
best email hacks with us over on the Viking Twitter @viking_chat!