7 smart shortcuts to use in your work email

Man working computer laptop outside park work from home businessOli Scarff/Getty ImagesSave yourself some time and effort.

Emails can be a serious time sink.

As Reuters reported, one 2015 survey found that US workers spend “6.3 hours a day checking emails, with 3.2 hours devoted to work emails and 3.1 hours to personal messages.”

If you want to save some time and energy, it’s important to figure out how to optimise your email experience.

Here are some shortcuts that can seriously cut down on the time you spend in your inbox:

Watch your email headers

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'Be clear and concise with your email heading,' Michael Kerr, an international business speaker and author of 'The Humour Advantage' told Business Insider.

'Your email subject line should make it clear why you are writing and make it easy for the receiver to file and later retrieve the email as needed. And don't forget to change the email heading as needed. If you are engaging in a lengthy back and forth over several days then change the subject line to reflect the new direction the conversation has taken to avoid confusion at a later date.'

Throw in a clear call to action

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'What is it you want the person to do with your email -- are you simply letting them know something, do you need an answer to a question by a certain date, or is there a specific action the receiver needs to follow up on?' Kerr asked. 'Always end your email with a summary call to action.'

All in all, it's best to keep your emails concise.

'Use plenty of white space and whenever possible bullet points to summarize your main points or calls to action,' Kerr said. 'This will make your emails easier to read, easier to follow, and improve the likelihood of getting a clear response back.'

Include a signature

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Kerr said that a signature file at the bottom of your email will make it far easier for people to connect with you 'without having to hunt down your contact information.'

In order to create your own automatic signatures, head to your Gmail's 'settings.' You'll land right in the 'general tab.' Just scroll down till you hit the'signature' section, and then type your own into the box. That signature will be added to the end of every one of your emails, from there on out.

Put scheduling technology to use

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Kerr said that technology like online scheduling tool Doodle.com -- which allows users to coordinate meetings by selecting matching date and time options on a calendar -- can really cut down the hassle of setting up meetings or calls via email.

Be proactive about your communication

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'Anticipate what questions or information your email might prompt and be proactive,' Kerr said. 'For example, rather than saying, 'Can we schedule a time to talk?' offer three options when you know you are available.'

Set up canned responses

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Sometimes, you end up sending a lot of similar emails over and over again. If that's the case, consider setting up some canned responses.

On Gmail, all you have to do is open up a new email draft, head to the bottom right, and click on the arrow (as illustrated above). From there, scroll to 'canned responses' and set up a form email by clicking 'new canned response.'

'When you are answering the same question or offering the same information repeatedly, create some macro shortcuts: the time-savings can be huge when you consider how much time most employees spend on email,' Kerr said. 'Or consider creating links to already prepared responses to regular requests.'

For starters, consider setting up a generic response letting people know when you've received their email.

'To avoid a person repeatedly sending emails your way, always let the person know you received their email a simple, 'Thank you Susan, got it,'' Kerr said. 'It will be appreciated and ultimately save both parties time and stress. And if you need more time responding properly to the email, at least let the sender know when you anticipate having an answer back to them.'

Cut down your email time in general

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'One of the most efficient email shortcuts is this: forgoing email altogether,' said Kerr. 'Given the endless back and forth one email can generate, and the many ways that email messages get misinterpreted, always start by asking yourself whether it's better to meet face to face or pick up the phone before firing off an email. Yes, it may be longer initially, but it will end up saving you time and stress.'

'If there is ever a tough conversation that is needed to be had, it's best to do that in person or over the phone,' Ryan Kahn, a career coach, founder of The Hired Group, and author of 'Hired! The Guide for the Recent Grad,' told Business Insider.

In order to best manage the time you can't help but spend on email, Kerr recommended establishing set times where you check your inbox (perhaps only twice or three times a day).

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