Email management tips to improve your productivity
Did you know that the average individual spends 28% of their workday checking their emails? This equates to 2.6 hours each day, 13 hours per week and over 600 hours every year. If you’re working in a fast-paced industry, such as the global superyacht sector, time is a precious commodity that you should utilise in the most efficient way. Here we break down common email management mistakes and provide guidance on improving productivity and implementing more effective email management strategies.
Ditch the extensive folders
When it comes to email management, a popular method adopted is folders and lots of them. A folder for each client, a folder for each event, a folder for every project. Sound familiar? Whilst you may think this is keeping you organised, the reality is it is slowing you down. Ask yourself, ‘how often do I utilise these folders to find emails? If the answer is rarely, that’s clear evidence to ditch this method.
Instead of folders, we are champions of utilising the archive and search features. This powerful combination saves time by filing all emails that you may want access to in the future into one folder, the archive. Using your email providers sophisticated search features, you can quickly identify the email content you require with filters and keywords. Common and helpful search filters include; from, received subject, and has attachment. We recommend combining these filters for maximum efficiency, and no matter how large the archive grows, search performance should remain fast and accurate.
If you’re not ready to completely let go of your folders, there are several folder management methods online that will improve efficiency. A good example is the ‘trusted trio’, which recommends creating three email folders.
- The first is a ‘Follow up’ folder to add any emails you must reply to.
- A ‘Hold’ folder which acts as a temporary holding pen for any emails you need quick access to in the immediate future.
- An ‘Archive’ folder to store all emails that you may want to access in the future.
Ultimately it is about choosing a method that works for your role and organisation.
Check your inbox less often.
Research shows that the average professional checks their inbox 15 times per day, or every 37 minutes. These frequent interruptions often mean we waste time and lose focus, therefore taking longer to complete a task and potentially to a lower standard. To prevent continuous disruption, you can allocate specific time blocks throughout the day to review your emails and remove email notifications. Studies have shown this approach to significantly decrease stress levels, and the high-level cognition achieved should result in the production of higher quality work.
It is alarming how quickly we become subscribed to several newsletters and company mailing lists which are irrelevant and add noise to your already crowded inbox. Instead of wasting time skimming the content and deleting it, unsubscribe wherever possible. There are a number of tools that will allow you to bulk unsubscribe, such as unlistr.
Some email providers, such as Gmail, have filter functionality which can be useful to further remove distractions. Social media updates and newsletters can be set automatically as ‘read’ as soon as they arrive in your inbox, or you can send these emails to a separate folder to review later when you’re not mid-task.
Lastly, we recommend keeping any personal emails separate from your business email. This will keep you more focused on the emails that matter most and avoid any complications when you leave the organisation. Remember, your work email often belongs to your organisation, as does the content sent and received from the address.
Implementing effective email management strategies
So, to summarise, here are our simple email productivity tips to help you improve your inbox management.
- Utilise your email providers search capabilities
- Folders are no longer serving you – stick to a maximum of 3
- Archive everything that you think may be required in the future, delete everything else
- Check your inbox less often and turn off notifications
- Newsletters – unsubscribe from the ones of no relevance and use filters to limit interruptions