Email Efficiency

A (significantly) modified post which had been sitting in my drafts since November 2009 (or maybe twas 2008).

Photo Credit: Snail Mail? by tupilak

Email alias Web Mail
Email together with phone, social networking tools & instant messaging is one of the main forms of communication, if not the most widely used for business. Email is undeniably easy to use, low-cost & near instantaneous. Yet due to its popularity, email overload can become a problem with hundreds (or in severe cases thousands) of emails arriving in each individual’s inbox daily. And if one was to go out of office for a few days or a week…

Cutting Email Down to Byte-Size
Going through emails, or even worse searching & sifting through to find a specific email is an arduous task. Yet how you handle your incoming email has the biggest impact on whether email is manageable or a time-wasting evil. One way to overcome email-ritis is by working smart with 3 simple steps when you receive an email:
1. Delete the email if its worthless (hints: spam folder, personal ‘junk/misc’ email account for non-work stuff)
2. Reply immediately if it needs a response (as opposed to re-reading it & leaving it cluttering your inbox)
3. OR file it away in its specific folder/category (if you will need it again at another time)

Folders Usage
Folders itself should be sorted out into categories that make sense. Try not to setup folders based on ‘who’ sends the email but more towards the category that best fits it. Use sub-folders as well but keep it within 2 or max 3 levels deep. Old emails/projects that are no longer required/closed should be archived or moved into another backup folder. Do a clean-up of your folders/backup at least once a year.

Getting Started
If your inbox has less than 30 emails (read + unread), then you’re in great shape! Else if your inbox has 500++ emails you’re going to need a strategy to clean your inbox. Proposed is to move all your existing email into a temp ‘To Sort’ folder. In the meantime, all new emails receive should follow the 3 simple steps above (delete/reply/file). When free or having spare time, spend time on your ‘To Sort’ folder to delete/reply/file those emails.

Gains
If you’re doing well, you will find yourself being more effective & efficient. Better (amazing) response time to emails sent to you. No more complaints of you not replying to urgent items & time savings by having to read an email usually only once. When looking for a specific email, you save vast amounts of time as well as it has all sorted out into the specific folder making it easy to find. Also if you spend too much time looking at your inbox the whole day (or for Outlook users compulsively pressing the F9 button), it may make sense for you to set certain times of the day only to check email OR for your email to download every 30/60 minutes.

All the best in mastering your email!

Other
Queries on any of the above suggestions?
Or any other tips or suggestions for email efficiency to share?

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6 thoughts on “Email Efficiency

  1. @sandy: that’s a great way of reducing email clutter & yet keeping full in touch via social networking sites! =)
    gotta remember to turn of all the auto email notifications though 😛

    @ppl: agreed! especially when one ends up checking email on one’s mobile as well 😛
    still it’s very challenging today to live in the world without either…

  2. go paperless dear, paperless!

    sitting on the fence when i received my insurance policy and vehicle ownership release letter in my emails- funny, cos we r so used to having special envelopes to keep all these. gonna take some getting use to, eh? 🙂

  3. @bee: mmm. paper-less & going green is always good. agreed though it’s hard for a few things that we are so used to actually holding actual hardcopy records of.

    maybe special online envelopes would help too? 😛

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