Some people put on weight at Christmas, others find it’s their email inbox that’s bulging at the seams a little bit! Now that many of us are working remotely, email is a key way to communicate. In one study we read, people surveyed said they have around 200 emails in their inbox, get 120 new ones a day and respond to about 25% of them. Whether you get more or less than that, what can you do to keep your email inbox under control?
The team at Elephant have tried out some different methods over the years and here’s a few things you can try to become an inbox ninja!
- Email blitzes. The worse way to deal with email is to your inbox sitting there all day, and you try and answer emails as they come in. This can interrupt your thought processes and other work. So the first ninja trick is schedule some email blitzes during the day. This is when you put 30 minutes aside and go hard on your inbox. Answer emails, scan newsletters, move things into your to do list. Be brutal and answer quickly – don’t procrastinate and think too long on things. If you are going to have to think about something, let the person know you’re on it and will come back to them shortly. Depending on your email volume, 2 to 4 email blitzes a day can help you deal with waaaay more emails than doing it as they come in. Use the 4 D’s with this – do it, delegate it, delete it or defer it.
- Signatures. There’s a secret use for email signatures that is nothing to do with a signature! We often get queries that are similar. So if you keep retyping the same answers, set these up as an email signature. You might have ‘Sick leave query’ as your email signature, which when you choose it, has the usual answer you give about sick leave. Take 15 minutes out and set up some email signatures now and you’ll save a whole lot of time.
- Unsubscribe. Whenever you look at a website these days, you often then start getting their newsletter. So over the next week, unsubscribe to things that come in that you’ve never read, or didn’t ask to be subscribed to (don’t unsubscribe to Elephant News though, we would get very sad if you did that!).
- Folders. Set up some email folders to move things into. These can either be folders where you put items to action or answer, or just to store so you can find them again. You can set up email rules so that emails from specific people or companies go into a folder although you do then need to check those folders, so the rule thing doesn’t work for everyone. For example Elise in our team has a folder of Assignments to be marked, where she stores assignments she’s waiting to hear back on from our marking team.
- Waiting to hear. On that note – you might reply to an email and then delete it or file it. However you can’t do anything until you hear back from that person, and they may need a follow up! So having a waiting to hear back folder can be a great way to get stuff out of your inbox, but still give you a way to track things you’re waiting to hear back on.
Those are our top 5 inbox ninja tricks. We’d love to hear if you’ve got a method that works, or if you’re tried these out and what’s worked best for you.