How to manage my emails effectively?

How to manage my emails effectively?

I am an advocate of an order; I like a clean mailbox. On Friday evening I like to go home knowing that I dealt with all that was outstanding in the week. This gives me a clean and fresh start on Monday morning. My strategy is to manage my mailbox down to zero by end of each week.

I work through my emails in bulk at times specifically designated to e-mail processing. This could be 1 to 1.5hours each morning and then again 1 hour in the evening. This varies depending on the time of year and the cyclicality of work. During quieter times 1 hour per day is sufficient. When going gets tough I need more time.

I have a simple method that I have now been following for years that seems to work best for me. It focuses around three points:

  • Emails need to be transformed into tasks and immediately allocated or planned. Every time I do not do that I end up re-reading the same email over and over again. It has been proven that on average over-checking emails wastes 21 minutes per day. In a week this adds up to 1 hour and 45 minutes.
  • Each email is read once, marked as read (this is very important as it allows me to see what has been processed and what not) and archived. Remember to keep your archiving folders clean and simple. The fewer you have the more time you will save. A study from the Harvard Business Review found that complex filing systems will cost you additional 14 minutes per day. Remember - keep you filing system simple, and your wife and kids will thank you for having more time for them.
  • be systematic and regular - not dealing with a problem today will make your problem twice as big tomorrow; tackle them head on, and make sure you do not build up a humongous backlog.

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Until next time

M | K

PS - the study I referred to was published by Harvard Business Review on January 19th, 2019. You will need a subscription to be able to read it in full, so if you do not have it yet I would highly recommend. I am not sponsored by HBR. I have been a subscriber for a very long time (come to think of it I have probably paid already an equivalent of a small car to them) and when it comes to career tips and tricks, I have found them to be one of the most helpful resources out there.

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