Emails can quickly pile up and be a distraction with their constant notifications — especially those short back-and-forth messages. Tim Ferris, author of The 4-Hour Work Week, says you should get into the habit of using “if…then” statements to reduce this kind of email clutter.
Such email ping-pong, as 99U puts it, can be distracting and more work than it deserves. The idea is actually simple, but it’s about making it a habit:
Email communication should be streamlined to prevent needless back-and-forth. Thus, an email with “Can you meet at 4:00 pm?” would become “Can you meet at 4:00 pm? If not, please advise three other times that work for you.”
Get into the habit of considering what “if … then” actions can be proposed in any email where you ask a question.
You are essentially anticipating problems and addressing them pre-emptively. In most cases, it’s not hard to do. Consciously make an effort to do this and you’ll be able to reduce your email clutter.