Did you know that the average professional spends 28% of their workday – or roughly 2.6 hours – reading and answering email? It can be incredibly frustrating, not to mention costly, when a tool that’s meant to improve productivity turns into a time management hurdle.
While you can’t add more hours to your daily schedule, you can make better use of the time that you have by finding ways to effectively manage your messaging system. Here’s a rundown of the email productivity tricks you need to know as a manager, business owner, or entrepreneur.
Taking Control of Your Email Habits
Having your attention constantly disrupted by incoming email messages not only contributes to stress, it can significantly increase the time it takes to complete whatever task you’re focused on.
One of the quickest ways to boost workday productivity is by taking control of your email response habits.
- First, turn off your email notifications
- Then, schedule time slots throughout the working day to deal with new messages
- Finally, make it a habit to act immediately on every email you open
By responding to or following up on new messages right away, you’ll avoid wasting valuable time rereading them later.
Organizing Your Inbox
Various email platforms offer messaging filters and rules for a reason: they can help you better manage your time and work more productively. In Gmail, for example, you have the option of using labels, folders, and various categories to:
- Relocate, or
- Sort new and existing emails to better organize your inbox
Not only can email providers often pre-determine which incoming messages are important and sort them accordingly, platforms like Gmail will let you set up customized or multiple inboxes to prioritize your communications, while reminding you to respond.
Investing a little time upfront to modify how your messages are handled will pay dividends in the long run by reducing the amount of time you spend sifting through emails.
Using a Dedicated Business Email Address
It’s not uncommon for new or small-scale entrepreneurs to keep all their email activity in one place. But the truth is that no matter how efficiently they’re sorted, the more incoming messages you’re exposed to each day, the more potential there is for distraction.
In much the same way that you shouldn’t commingle your business and personal financial affairs, using separate email addresses will save time and streamline your work communications.
Out of sight, out of mind isn’t just the best policy from a productivity perspective, however. You’ll also gain greater credibility as an entrepreneur by using a professional, appropriately named email address – rather than a personal account – to conduct all your business transactions.
Staying Organized on the Go
Taking advantage of opportunities to check your email from a mobile device when you’re away from work may sound counterproductive. But think about how many minutes and hours you typically spend:
- In line or on hold,
- Traveling by transit, taxi, or Uber
- Waiting at home for a delivery or service appointment
By using otherwise unproductive moments to pre-screen, organize, and even delete unimportant or irrelevant emails, you can get a jump on your communications and shorten the time you’ve scheduled to process and act on new messages.
Parkinson’s Law suggests that whatever time you allocate to your work is the time it will take to complete it. So do yourself a favour and set aside fewer of your productive hours for dealing with email by updating your spam lists, minimizing third-party cc’s and updates, and eliminating poor-value subscriptions.