Send less, get less
Think carefully about whether you really need to draft new messages or respond to those you have already received.
Escape the endless reply loop
Silence in response to an email message may feel rude, but is acceptable. If you wish to reassure someone that no reply is necessary, finish a message with “no reply needed,” or a request with “Thank you in advance.” Avoid asking any questions for which you do not really want or need answers.
Do not check your emails constantly
Check it at regular intervals.
Be disciplined about your email management
Aim to handle each message just once. If it is unimportant or irrelevant, hit the delete key. If you spend more than three hours a week sorting through junk mail, you have a problem and need to reorganize your system.
Establish a response time
If you usually respond to email messages immediately, people grow to expect an immediate response, and become annoyed if you differ from this. The rule of thumb in business is to respond to emails by the end of the same day. If it is really urgent, use the phone instead.
Decide whether to respond to a message now or later, when you will have the time and information you need
Once you have responded, move the message out of your inbox and into archive folder.
Use a feature called Quick Parts in Outlook that you can use to set up canned responses
Situations may arise where you will have to write the same email responses repeatedly. Many of these emails are very similar in nature and basically ask the same question over and over again. Canned responses make it easier for you to deal with such situations. It allows you to save such response, which could be used as a template for future use. This saves you time and energy, and ensures consistency.
Keep your “Inbox” folder almost empty
Set up a simple filing system to help manage your mail and move the emails there (manually or with the help of “Rules”). You could use broad categories titled “Action Items,” “Waiting,” “Reference,” and “Archives.” If you are able to stay on top of your folders – particularly “Action” and “Waiting” folders – you could use them as an informal To-Do List for the day. If four categories sounds too simplistic for your needs, you can set up a more detailed system. For instance, you could create a folder for every project that you are working on or have a set folder for each of your clients or sales reps. The advantage when you create specific folders for processing email is that it makes it easier to search for past mail: instead of scouring your entire email system, you can simply search in that particular folder.
Want to develop better emailing habits? Read our blog post about it here.