Whether you are a business owner, entrepreneur or corporate executive, there is high probability that you are checking your email at an alarming rate. According to a recent online survey of 400 white collar American workers, the average time spent on email was an astounding 6.3 hours per day, with 3.1 hours dedicated to work emails and 3.2 hours allocated to personal emails. With email being so easily accessible on smartphones and since messages can be sent to you literally any time of day or night, it is easy to get distracted from the more pressing tasks at hand if you don’t manage your time – and your inbox – wisely.
3 Tips to Manage Your Email Inbox Wisely
1. Spend quality “alone” time with your email first thing every morning, then do other things: There is no escaping email altogether, nor would it be good business practice to do so. However, that doesn’t mean you have to be beholden to your inbox all day long. One way to avoid the endless cycle of checking and rechecking your email is to set aside the first half-hour of your work day to focus on email without any distractions. If you get to the office and other employees are already there, try to get into a routine of going to your desk, closing the door, and checking your email. To avoid distractions altogether, you can also spend 30 minutes checking your email at home before you get to the office, or head to work early when less people are around.
By spending this quality “alone” time with your email before everything else gets going, you will be able to reply as needed, prioritize your day better if something urgent pops up in your inbox, and get off to a productive start to the day. After those 30 minutes are over, try spending the next hour or two doing some of the other things that makes your business run smoothly: Hold morning production or status meetings with your employees, follow up on phone calls, and delegate responsibilities as needed, etc. Before you know it, you’ll be 1.5 to 2.5 hours into your day, and you’ll have only checked your email once or twice while getting other things done that NEED to get done.
Suffering from email fatigue? You are not alone. Email marketing had a response rate of just 0.1 percent, according to the 2015 DMA Response Rate Report.
2. Keep subscriptions out of your Inbox and unsubscribe from stuff you don’t read: Some of the biggest distractions in your inbox are all of those marketing newsletters and email blasts you get because you’ve subscribed to receive them at one point or another along the way. While these emails can be useful and spark new ideas for your business, they should not take up precious real estate at the top of your unread email list. To avoid clutter, you can set up “rules” if you use an email program like Outlook (or create “filters” if you have a Gmail account) that will automatically reroute messages away from your Inbox and into other folders instead. This will clear your inbox of less urgent emails that you can always read later, while letting you stay focused on the more important tasks at hand.
In addition to keeping subscriptions out of your inbox, you should also take a few minutes to simply unsubscribe from the emails you no longer feel are valuable to you or your business. Simply put, if you don’t read it, then unsubscribe from it.
3. Know when to pick up the phone to avoid needless back and forth on email: When of the biggest traps people fall into is relying on email a little too much for everything. Not every conversation is meant for email, and a good email manager will know when to pick up the phone to avoid needless back and forth. There are three huge benefits to actually calling up a colleague, employee, client or coworker. First, you avoid any miscommunications that are bound to come up during a long and drawn out email exchange. Second, by speaking with someone directly, you bring the human element back into play because you are reminded that there is actually another person on the other end of the email chain. Lastly, by resolving an issue over the phone, you effectively eliminate more emails from piling into your Inbox and can then refocus on other items that are on your to do list for that day.
At the end of your work day, the last thing you want to do is look back and see that you weren’t being as productive as you would have liked. Cutting down the amount of time spent on email and managing your inbox wisely can help you get off to a better start every morning, so that email – and work – doesn’t keep you up at night.
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