On average, roughly 28% of the work week is spent reading and responding to emails. While you may have recognised this dilemma, it is still tricky to alter routine and get the most out of your days. Here’s a few suggestions to boost email productivity and to get those hours back in your day.

  1. Don’t use e-mail to manage your tasks. Use a project list on a spreadsheet, or a task management or project management tool instead. There are simple, free and low-cost PM tools available that let you list, categorise, prioritise, and share your open action items. It’s a worthwhile investment to prevent tasks and follow-ups from falling through the cracks.
  2. Run through your inbox by taking action immediately. Don’t mull over a reply. Most emails can be answered in 2-3 sentences – if it necessitates more than a paragraph, pick up the phone and call. If there’s no answer, leave a message. Limit the length of your responses and keep it short and sweet. Use the BLUF method (bottom line up front) when responding to emails. What’s the main point of your email? What action do you want the recipient to take? What critical facts do you need to get across in your email?
  3. File folders for speedy and efficient action. You should need no more than a few. How much time do you spend each day organising only? Use the search function and find it in one of the few folders you’ve created.

Good examples of folders to create:

  1. Requires Action, holds emails that require an action on your part (besides simply responding) and for important emails that will take you longer than a few minutes to respond to. Set time aside later to complete these email actions. Ideally, you want to respond to emails immediately.
  2. The Waiting for Response folder is a no-brainer. It is a holding place for email you need a response to.
  3. The To Read folder is for newsletters, eBooks, or other learning content that you want to come back to later. For this folder, have a rule or filter set up. To stay productive, you must minimise distractions during your work day. If you find you’re not reading any particular newsletter, unsubscribe! Ask yourself, Have I ever received valuable advice from this site? If your answer is no, you know what to do!

For cleaning up unsolicited subscription emails, Unroll.me ranks superior when it comes to simplicity. The service automatically shows you a list of your subscription emails, everything you’re subscribed to, with an opt out for anything unwanted in one click.

  1. The Personal folder is for any emails sent to you from friends, family etcetera that are not work related which you can get back to at a later stage.

Have you got any email tips to share?