Email is taking over the world, and our lives- or at least it feels that way.  The key thing to remember with email is that it is not a synchronous form of conversation.  People don’t expect an instant response to an email, even if we feel driven to respond immediately.  This is also true of text messages.  I’ve seen it become a serious impediment for people, and it really doesn’t need to be.

Tips for Email Management

  1. Set aside concrete times to deal with email.  That means setting a reasonable time limit, along with specific times to check email.  Otherwise, you’ll be checking it all the time, or spend way too much time on email.
  2. If an email requires a quick action, of less than 5 minutes to perform, then do it right then. Setting a task to do later for a quick task is self defeating, and you will drive yourself crazy.  You also will spend more time managing the task than it would have taken to perform in the first place.
  3. Make a point of getting to the bottom of your email every time you process email.  Go through all of it, every time.  Do what needs doing, assign tasks for follow up later for bigger things, and delete the rest.  You’ll be amazed at how much you can actually delete or ignore.
  4. Set up your contact information in your signature. In a professional environment, I go ahead and set up my signature and that contains my full contact information in every single email.  That way, I’m not finding myself typing that information over and over again.  I know it doesn’t seem like much, but little bits of time add up.
  5. Turn off email notifications.  You know those little pop-up notifications on your phone and desktop?  Turn them off.  You do not need a visual reminder every time you get an email.  If you turn off the audible and visible notifications for every time an email comes in, you won’t be tempted to check email incessantly.  Suddenly you’ll find yourself with a lot of extra time in your day.

If you can follow these tips for email management, you’ll find yourself with lots of extra time, and you will begin to master email, rather than having it master you.

What are your tips for email management?