Did you know that we spend about 13 hours a week in our email inboxes? Replying, responding, forwarding and emoticon-ing takes prime productive time away from the big stuff, like working on your strategy to take over the market and planning the office Super Bowl pool.
Feel like you’re spending more than the average amount of time on email? Want to save a few of those 13 hours? The business email experts at Rackspace can help. With more than a decade of experience managing enterprise-grade email, we understand the intricacies and needs of business email users. We know you need to reduce the time spent dealing with email. To help you pare down your inbox, here are some quick tips and tricks we’ve picked up along the way. These will help you better manage your inbox and save time.
- Adopt the Ds. According to the Radicati Group, knowledge workers receive roughly 100 email messages a day. Using the four Ds: Do it, delete it, delegate it or defer it, can help you keep your inbox more manageable. Of all those messages, about half get deleted or filed and a third are delegated or completed in less than two minutes.
- Make email dates. Schedule time to review email and keep new message alerts turned off at all other times – including the notifications that echo to your smartphone and tablet. Each time you stop what you’re doing to respond to the melodic chime of an email notification, it takes you 64 seconds to get back to what you were doing. Multiply that by how many times you hear that chime a day (not including in your sleep) and you’ve clocked a mountain of time. Stop letting email intrude on your schedule.
- Keep it light. Your inbox should be like an airport with messages departing to folders or trash. If your inbox is becoming a graveyard for messages that hang around for days or weeks, make a rule to keep no more than 20 messages your inbox. When you hit 21, force yourself to do some housecleaning before you’re dealing with dozens of messages to clean up.
- Automatic timesaving. If you send out a weekly report, for example, the report differs each week but the subject line, “Sales Report,” and the message body, “Here’s the report,” stay the same, turn it into an email template that you can re-send with a few clicks. This will help avoid copying/pasting or re-typing common messages. To cut down on keystrokes even more, consider text expansion software, like Fastfox, for those phrases you use most frequently.
- Prepare for surges. Only send messages to large distribution lists when it’s absolutely necessary. Often those mass sends bring back an influx of auto replies, random responses and unnecessary inbox clutter. So, don’t send to a large group unless you’re ready for the flood. To prepare for the flood, create a rule to send those replies to a new folder to avoid inbox bombardment.
- Take shortcuts. In addition to keyboard shortcuts, Outlook and other business email clients have a list of shortcuts you can use to shave a few seconds off of common email tasks. Check out Microsoft’s list of Outlook shortcuts. Other shortcuts, like dragging and dropping attachments into an email and using a link-shortening service like Bitly to shorten links can also save you a few strokes.
- List cleansing. How many of those newsletters are you really reading? Take a walk through your inbox to unsubscribe to lists, alerts and newsletters you aren’t using, or kick them out of the inbox and into their own folder with a rule. And take care going forward of where you drop your business email address.
- Commit to single tasking. According to researchers, multi-tasking can lower the IQ by 10 points – equal to missing a night’s sleep. Set aside time to prioritize email and then process each message separately. Taking a few seconds to prioritize your inbox before jumping to task on the first email saves you from wasting time working on a low priority when a more important task is sitting a few emails down.
- Downsize messages. When you get the dreaded message that your mailbox is almost full, look for messages with large attachments. Sort by size then review the ones with attachments. Download and save the attachment locally or to a file server. Now you can delete the attachment from the message and retain only the message body in your inbox.
Get 10 more tips to reclaim your inbox here and check out this video with some Outlook-specific tips to streamline your inbox.