Are you drowning in email? If you don't have a plan to manage your email, it can gobble up a large part of your day and create additional work for your colleagues and friends.
- Respond quickly and clearly to those who need your attention or input — this will reduce the amount of email you receive
- When you can't reply immediately, file the emails for action later
- Take an email sabbatical on occasion to give yourself a break
- Assume that email is the real problem — a clogged inbox might mean you haven't established clear priorities
- Send one-word emails and reply to everyone on a thread — the more email you send the more you will receive
- Think a company-wide policy will solve your email problems — focus on what you can control: your own behavior
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Ciara Conlon for Lifehack.org suggests these nine habits to help manage your email overload:
- Write better emails. Get to the point with a concise message.
- Pick up the phone. Arranging a time and place is much more efficient when you are speaking to someone in person. Also if you send fewer emails, you will logically receive fewer emails.
- Remove yourself. Remove yourself from email newsletter lists, or use a dedicated email address separate from your work inbox.
- Chunk it up. Scan your email only at a few specific times during your day. Consider advising people that if they urgently need a reply to something, they should call you instead.
- Turn it off. Switch off all notifications of emails, on your PC and other devices to avoid distractions.
- Keep it brief. Keep your messages brief and to the point. Send one email per topic for clarity.
- Process your email twice a day. After scanning your email, "process" each one by making a decision (such as Do, Delegate, Delete or Defer).
- Organize your email. The emails you need to keep should be filed in a logical system. Trash any that don’t fall into your categories.
- Get a life. Remember that your email doesn’t own you. You are the adult and you need to take control.
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Are you ready to reverse the email spiral and spread the word to others? Read the email charter here, put it into practice and share it if you like.