It doesn’t matter what you do, modern jobs seem to require that everyone barrage you with email at all hours of the day. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and like you’ll never get back to a clean inbox, here are 10 of our favourite tips to help you manage the ever-growing mountain of email.
10. Get to Know Your Email Client
9. Learn Your Email Values
8. Filter Priority Messages
Chances are, not every single email you get requires your attention right away. Filter out the important messages so when you’re crunched for time, you can prioritise what email you answer. Gmail’s Priority Inbox is a fantastic, automated way to do this, although you could probably accomplish something similar with a few well-crafted filters in any email client.
7. Don’t Check It Too Often
6. Respond In a Timely Manner
Responding to your email quickly keeps you looking professional, but it’s a balancing act. Try following the 2-2-2 rule, which says to aim for answering emails within two hours of their arrival. If you don’t have time to respond to it right now, a service like Boomerang for Gmail can remind you of it later on so you don’t let it float to the bottom of your inbox. Remember, responding in a timely manner is not the same as responding immediately — not only does that mean you’re breaking tip #7, but it means people will then expect you to always reply instantly, which is often an unachievable goal.
5. Keep It Under Control When You’re On Holiday
4. Use Text Expansion to Save Yourself Hours of Typing
3. Learn to Use the Search Function
2. Get Rid of Unwanted Spam
1. Triage Your Email to an Empty Inbox
In the end, the best way to get to inbox zero is to get your email out of your inbox, act on it, then archive it away. We’ve always advocated triaging your inbox with the trusted trio of folders: Follow Up, Archive, and Hold. If you can get by without ever leaving a read message in your inbox, you’ll be able to achieve that mental peace you’ve always wished for. Check out our full guide to triage to learn more.
These aren’t the only tips that’ll help you keep a clean inbox, but they’re some of the ones we’ve found most useful over the years. Got your own tip or trick to dealing with a constant barrage of messages? Let us know about it in the comments.