Office workers spend about two hours a day on email.
While sending emails might feel productive, he says, it doesn’t help you grow your professional skill set.
With that in mind, we gathered these time-saving hacks.
To stop typing the same thing all the time, use “canned responses” in Gmail.
If you’re always sending the same email — your address, your elevator pitch, your availabilities for the week — then craft a few canned responses in Gmail and dish them out quickly.
To do so, open Gmail, click on settings, click on Labs, then “canned responses,” and then click enable. Or watch this sweet walkthrough, care of blogger Amy Lynn Andrew.
To avoid unnecessary emails, send a text, IM, or just walk on over.
Productivity consultant Jason Womack says to find a way to “escalate high-priority messages” with your colleagues.
If a matter is both urgent and important — and there is a difference — use a different medium than email, like instant message, text, or just walking over to their desk. While emails get lost in a pile, a tap on the shoulder is hard to miss.
Use “the Email Game” to hustle through your messages.
If you want to have some fun and increase your pace as you churn through your inbox, play the Email Game, which turns sorting through emails into a type-as-fast-as-you-can web game. When you open up the Email Game, it syncs with your Gmail. It opens up one message at a time, which you deal with right away and then click onto the next one, all in a race against time. Productivity guru Tim Ferriss swears by it; he says it doubles his inbox-cruising speed.
To slow down the pace of incoming messages, get rigorous about unsubscribing.
If most of your messages are spam or unread newsletters, get rid of them. How? Set a filter for the word “unsubscribe” — which should catch all those unwanted mass mailings — and archive all that stuff immediately. This way you’re not actually unsubscribing to the emails, which might have searchable value down the line, you’re just shoveling them into a folder.
To sprint through your inbox like an Olympian runs a race, get to know how your email client works.
To compress your inbox for speed, stop using your email as a to-do list.
Using your inbox as a to-do list is dangerous. Any email you don’t act on immediately will get pushed down to the bottom of your inbox by the end of the day. For a better to-do list, try Any.do or Trello.
To aid with sorting the good from the bad, enlist some algorithmic help.
When Harvard Business Review editor Sarah Green set out on a quest to conquer her inbox, she realised she was relying too much on herself.
“I stopped expecting a human brain to solve a problem created by technology,” she writes. “I used to feel bad — really bad — when important emails would get lost in the impenetrable wall of unimportant near-spam that took over my inbox every day.”
She opted for SaneBox, an algorithmic filtering app that learns what your most important messages are. Those are guided into your now-tidy inbox, while the filtered-out emails are filed away into a “SaneLater” folder.
To prevent from getting overwhelmed, make a careful routine.
Some of the greatest artists have had rigorous daily routines. LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner shows a similar commitment to sculpting his days — how else could he communicate in a 4,300 person company? As he shared on a LinkedIn post, the routine goes like this:
Wake between 5am and 5:30am; spend roughly an hour on my inbox; catch up on the day’s news; have breakfast and play with the kids; workout; go to the office; carve out roughly two hours for buffers each workday; come home; put the girls to bed; have dinner with my wife; and then decompress, typically while watching tv (sporadically cleaning up my inbox via mobile during commercials and the boring parts of whatever we’re watching.)
When days get particularly hectic, Weiner says he loses the routine and consequently loses control of the inbox. Thus the importance of forming a habit that sticks.
To save clicks and keystrokes, use keyboard shortcuts.
For example, on Gmail, via Business Insider:
- (Ctrl + Enter) to send message
- (Ctrl + .) to move to the next window
- (Ctrl + Shift + c) to add Cc recipients
- (Ctrl + Shift + b) to add Bcc recipients
On Outlook.com, via CNET:
- (R) to Reply
- (Shift+R) to Reply all
- (Shift+F) to Forward
- (F7) to Check spelling
To make emailing on a smartphone faster, use Mailbox.
When Mailbox founder Gentry Underwood was first drawing up the app, he realised that most mobile email clients were clunky ports of desktop experiences. So Mailbox redesigned the inbox for mobile friendliness. Unwieldy email threads get condensed down into chat-sized bubbles. Messages get archived with a swipe of a finger. To see more, watch this:
To avoid unnecessary work, quit with the filing system.
Gmail and other clients allow you to set up filing systems to allow users to better organise their inboxes. But it can just get in the way.
“Email folders are categorically the worst way to look for email messages,” says Alex Moore, CEO of the email management service Baydin, the company behind the Email Game.
A folder system is self-defeating, he says, because even if you make a bunch of great folders, you might not recall where you put a given message. A search is way faster.
To save you time and get your messages read, write shorter subject lines.
Marketing company Retention Science did an analysis of email replies and found that “emails with subject lines containing six to 10 words were the most effective at getting the recipient to open them up.”
As we’ve reported before, there’s a science to subject lines.
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