Who knew that the key to gaining more time, focus, and clarity was to better manage email?
Changing how I manage email has been one of the most worthwhile changes that I’ve made in the past year. When I think back to how much time I spent each day, responding to and reading email, I can see why there was never enough time to do other things. Instead of being a source of information and connection, my email inbox turned into an excuse to disconnect from the present moment. With a simple update to my routine, I am now able to take back my time to do more of what I love.
Creating A Simple Email Routine
Determine your schedule
- Decide what time(s) of the day you’ll dedicate to checking and responding to email. It can be first thing in the morning, at the end of the workday, or any other time that makes sense for you. But the key is to stick to the schedule that you create. That way, you allow yourself to remain present and focused throughout the other parts of your day.
- Turn off your email notifications. The flashing lights, beeping sounds, and pop-ups all draw our attention away from what we’re currently working on, making it that much harder to progress on other things. Disable these reminders on your phone and your laptop.
Get rid of the messages you don’t want
- Unsubscribe from the emails that no longer provide you any value. When you do, you may be surprised by how much less email you get each day. Instead of unsubscribing one at a time, use an app like Unroll.me. When you connect it to your email address, you’ll get a full list of all of your email subscriptions, which you can then choose to unsubscribe from, leave in your inbox as is, or roll up into one combined daily email. Unroll.me will also let you know when there are new email subscriptions that you need to take action on.
Organize the messages you do want
- Use folders and labels to group your email messages by topic. Create categories like “Upcoming Vacation” or “Freelance Projects”, so that everything that comes into your inbox has its place. You’ll find that this will help you become more intentional in how you check email. Instead of spending equal time on all messages, you’ll be able to focus specifically on the ones that are most important.
Move action items where they belong
- For emails that include meeting notifications, invitations, upcoming conference calls, or other event announcements, pull the information into your calendar as soon as you read it. This will mean that you don’t have to go back to that message more than once. Do the same for emails that have information that belongs on your to-do list — and not hidden in your inbox.
Read each email just once
- Instead of skimming email (and then going back to it later to remember what it said), make a point to read and act on each email as soon as you open it. Use one of these next steps for each of your emails:
- Pull the information into your calendar or to-do list
- File it into an inbox folder for later reference, like with hotel reservations or important documents
- Take it offline and call the person instead
- Delete it, assuming that there’s nothing more to do than read and absorb the enclosed information
Need more hands-on help with your email management? Inquire about 1-on-1 coaching.