Email is a very effective communication tool. You can send a message across the globe in seconds. You can reach thousands of people just by sending one email message.
Unfortunately, e-mail is also a major source of distraction for people in their everyday work. This is a shame, since e-mail is still – if used correctly – a good way to get your message across inexpensively and effectively. So how can we stop the major distraction, but keep using email effectively?
Improve Your Email Productivity
Here are 3 ways to make your e-mail usage more effective to help you to stay in control of your inbox:
- Treat your inbox like a regular mailbox. A common habit for many people is to keep their e-mail client open all day and constantly check the inbox, just to see if anything has come in there.
Sure, sometimes you might be expecting a very important message. Too often, however, the constant e-mail checking is just a time-wasting habit.
What if you decided to change your mindset over how you look at your inbox and started to treat it like a regular mailbox?
How many times you do check your regular mailbox during the day? For instance, I know that new mail arrives only twice a day in our mailbox (morning newspapers and letter mail in the afternoon). Occasionally we might get an evening paper too (twice a week).
With a regular mailbox, you don’t constantly keep checking it to see if there is anything new. Instead, you know when the mail arrives and check your mail then. So do the same with your e-mail inbox: set dedicated times when you will check it, but keep the number of times very low, (two – three times per day).
If you want more help in implementing this routine, you can also install a software called BatchedInbox. It’s for Gmail and it lets you receive e-mails in batches at pre-determined times.
- Set a permanent vacation responder. How often do you have to reply to the same kinds of messages, over and over again? For instance, if you are blogger, you might get requests for guest posts, product reviews, or advertising on your blog.
Unfortunately, 99.9% of the time these kinds of requests are just waste of time. Yet, as a courteous person, you still like to reply to them. To automate things a bit, create a permanent vacation responder, which states something like:
Subject: I don’t accept guest posts or ads on my site, nor do I review products.
Thanks for reaching out!
If your e-mail was about displaying ads on my site or writing guest posts for my blog, the answer is “no”. I don’t review any products either.
I may sometimes make exceptions to this rule, but if you don’t hear anything back from me in the next 48-hours, consider your request to be declined.
This simple message helps to set the expectations right from the get-go. So if you’re not interested in a new opportunity, simply let the e-mail to go unanswered.
- Eliminate the trigger and forget your inbox. You just can’t miss a new message when it arrives – this is guaranteed by the new message notification settings of your e-mail client. As soon as the pop-up window appears on the screen or you hear the sound of the alarm, you almost automatically check your inbox to see what type of message arrived.
To avoid this habit, eliminate the trigger mechanism altogether. This trigger is one part of every habit (the two other parts are the routine and the reward) and without a trigger, you prevent moving onto the routine and the reward parts.
With e-mail, just uncheck the setting which makes a sound or alarm go off, or which displays the pop-up message of the incoming message. Before changing this setting, I was constantly checking my e-mail. But when I finally eliminated the trigger, I sometimes even forgot to check my inbox during the day. So doing this simple thing definitely helped me to focus better on my tasks.
Take your e-mail productivity further
With some mindset changes and with a simple trigger elimination technique, your work day will become more focused and productive. All you have to do now is to put these tips into action.