This is a guest post by Timo Kiander. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guest post guidelines here.
There I was … staring at the screen with amazement!
I started to suspect that there was something was wrong with my e-mail software. However, after I making some additional checks, everything seemed to be OK.
You see I hadn’t received any e-mail after my last check (the night before going to bed). In normal circumstances my inbox was flooded with messages and it had taken me sometime to go through them.
When I started to analyze the situation, I realized that there were certain e-mail habits that were responsible for my amazement.
I bet you are ready to find out what those habits are, right?
Well, let’s get start then!
E-mail Productivity Number 1. Set the times right
First and foremost, I use time blocks to tackle my e-mail. I’m checking my e-mail in the morning (after doing some work first), in the afternoon and in the evening.
Having these scheduled times help me to focus on the messages with more organized manner and I can batch-process them easier.
E-mail Productivity Number 2. Don’t forget the time pockets
I have found the small time pockets to be very valuable when dealing with e-mail. And even if this strategy is somewhat conflicting with the tip #1, just listen what I have to say.
You see, I’m carrying my mobile phone with me almost everywhere I go and it’s very easy to check my inbox using my phone.
So when do I check my mail using mobile phone? Well, in those small, tiny time pockets that exists in our everyday lives. For instance, when waiting for a friend to show up to a meeting, waiting at a bank, or in the queue at the grocery store.
These time pockets are everywhere. During them I’m able to process my mail, so that when I eventually have my next time block for checking the e-mail via laptop (morning, afternoon or evening), there is actually fewer mails to process.
E-mail Productivity Number 3. Ask a question
I learned a great tip by watching an interview of Joshua Fields Millburn of the Minimalists some time ago. He talked about minimalism and said that we should ask ourselves the question “Will it add value to our life?”
When you apply this tip to e-mail, ask yourself this question every time you open a new message. If the answer is “no”, then it’s time to hit unsubscribe from that mailing list or create a filter in your e-mail application so that this kind of mail never makes to your inbox.
In fact, unsubscribe (or create a filter) as soon as possible if you realize that message is not bringing you any value. This way the number of e-mails starts to decrease – bit by bit.
E-mail Productivity Number 4. Create a canned message
If you are using Gmail as your e-mail client, this tip is for you. Canned message functionality is part of the Gmail Labs, a place where Google experiments with new Gmail features.
Canned message is nothing more than a pre-made e-mail template that you can use in your messaging. In fact, as soon as you realize writing the same type of e-mail for the second time, it’s time to turn the canned message feature on and create a template for your message.
E-mail Productivity Number 5. Create a filter
Yet another tip for Gmail users, although this same functionality exists in other e-mail clients as well (for instance in Microsoft Outlooks it’s called rules).
Filter is nothing more than a simple way of processing e-mail automatically. The filter could define that certain e-mail is deleted as soon as it arrives to your inbox.
Since I use like to keep my inbox organized, I apply the automatic labeling feature for most of my messages. I have created a filter that tags the messages with an appropriate label as soon as a message enters my inbox.
Get started with e-mail filtering today and soon you’ll have an inbox that’s easier to manage.
E-mail Productivity Number 6. Extract immediately
Many times my e-mail messages contain actions that I should take care of. To make sure I don’t forget those actions, I do the following:
If the information is an appointment, I make an calendar reservation to my mobile phone or Google Calendar immediately after reading the message. On the other hand, if the assignment is a task I have to take care of, I update that task right away to my task management software.
Whatever the case is, taking action instantly prevents forgetting important information inside your inbox. When you see the task again on your task list or get notified about the appointment by your mobile phone, this ensures that you take action on those items.
I have been able to organize my inbox with these E-mail Productivity tips and the number of messages has dropped dramatically.
The trick is to implement these habits in small steps. This way you are not trying to do too much at once.
Eventually you’ll realize that the number of e-mails starts to drop and you are not spending that much time in your inbox than before.
Timo Kiander, a.k.a. Productive Superdad, teaches WAHD superdad productivity for work at home dads. If you want to get more productive in your own life, grab 222 of his best Tips for Becoming a Productivity Superstar.