An overflowing, overwhelming inbox is a common lament. How do we manage this constant stream of incoming messages? The Atlantic‘s James Hamblin has five golden rules you can follow.
Hamblin says his approach has helped him halve the time he usually spends on emails. Some of the methods might seem curt, he warns, but they are effective.
- No Signoff: Eliminate “Best”, “Cheers” and other farewells. You can even skip your name, since the email address makes that abundantly clear.
- No Greeting: “Greetings and closings are relics of the handwritten missive,” says Hamblin.
- Three Sentences or Fewer: The crux of an email usually doesn’t need more than three sentences. If you need to write more, consider calling the person.
- Your Inbox Isn’t a To-Do List: Don’t obsess over answering the latest email you got. Even if you want to reach inbox zero, you don’t always need to have it at inbox zero. That’s not a priority, your other tasks are.
- Check Only Two or Three Times a Day: The average worker wastes 30 seconds every time they check their inbox. So check it only two-three times in a day. You might think your job doesn’t allow for that, but try it out; you’ll be surprised.
Your regular email acquaintances will get used to your new style of communication soon enough. For some people, it might seem rude to not greet or sign off, or just write three sentences. Pick and choose when you use brevity, don’t adhere to these rules like doctrine.
How to Email [The Atlantic]