Managing Your Inbox – How to Prioritize Communication for Your Business

A wise businessman once pointed out “nobody ever got rich checking their email more often.” Email has become a necessary evil, in many ways, and one that can monopolize your workday if you don’t take precautions. According to the Radicati Group, a technology market research firm, 269 billion emails are sent daily. A typical office worker receives 121 emails per day, according to the same research. Needless to say, one’s email inbox can become unruly in a matter of hours. And email can fast become a significant drain on time and resources. This blog post will explore practical ways that you can manage your inbox and prioritize your communication to drive better efficiencies.

Set aside specific times during the day to review your inbox. If you are receiving notifications constantly, it becomes impossible to devote your undivided attention to other priorities. You can actually change the settings on your email server to retrieve emails at longer intervals, or just at those times when you request it. Or, leave your email box closed during the day, and make it a habit to check your email only three times during your workday – first thing in the morning, right before lunch, and right before you leave the office. Limiting the amount of time you spend reading and responding to emails will necessarily force you to be more efficient with that time. It will also limit the distraction over the course of your workday.

When you are actually reading through your emails, try not to spend more than two minutes on each. Use this as a rule of thumb. If you come across an email that will require more of your time and attention, move it to a separate email box marked “To Do Later”. This will help you to prioritize those emails that demand more effort, and to power through those that do not.

Your email inbox can quickly become a disruptive mess. The sheer volume of messages inbounding is prohibitive and unless you work out a system to keep things organized, it will become impossible to find what you need. Set rules that will automatically route emails based on the sender or the subject line. You might want to put internal emails from coworkers into a separate inbox, and emails from customers into an altogether different one. There may be senders you can easily identify as annoying vendors, and you should route those emails accordingly. Spending a bit of time upfront creating those rules and organizing separate folders will go a long way in keeping things organized.

Another thing you might want to consider is the amount of email you send. If you want to receive less email, you should probably send less email. The principal is fairly straightforward – every time you send an email, you invite a response. Think about whether or not you need to send the volume of email you do. Can you use other communication channels? Slack? Skype? Phone? Cutting down on the amount of email you send will almost certainly have an impact on the amount of email you receive.

Managing your email inbox may seem like a small consideration, but doing it properly will free up your time and will provide noteworthy peace of mind. To learn more about how you can drive efficiencies in your business and enhance your communication strategy, contact Miller Bernstein today.