Email organization in everyday life – How to save time and stress!
Everyone knows it – we receive e-mails all the time and everywhere. Some of them are incredibly important, others don’t interest us at all. Already when opening the e-mail inbox, our body sends out increased stress hormones. In order to keep the overview we have to act.
Especially in our daily work routine, we are flooded with e-mails and in order to decide whether they are important or not, we have to take a look at them at least once. That costs time! And we don’t want to sacrifice that for e-mails. This article gives you the 11 most important tips for successful e-mail organization.
Always available – e-mail management means time management
Maybe working through your emails reminds you of the feeling of a never-ending story. Every time you think you’re done with your e-mails, it goes “ping” and you have more unread e-mails in your inbox.
With this flood of e-mails, it’s hard to deal with each message in detail. As a result, important information can occasionally get lost. And that can have a massive impact.
And by the time we take the time to answer each e-mail in detail – it feels like the day is already over. If we don’t respond immediately, respond curtly, or don’t respond at all, we feel bad. That doesn’t have to be the case – and let’s be honest: We actually have more important things to do than just read and process e-mails, don’t we?
The 11 most important tips for your e-mail inbox
1. Less is more – manage e-mail folders
Ihr Postfach ist keine virtuelle Bibliothek, sondern ein temporärer Ablageort für Nachrichten. Eine einfache und sinnvolle Order-Struktur kann Ihnen dabei helfen, den Überblick zu behalten und Aufgaben systematisch abzuarbeiten. Verschiebst Du eine noch zu beantwortende E-Mail eines Kunden in den jeweiligen Kundenordner, so ist die Wahrscheinlichkeit sehr hoch, dass sie dort für alle Ewigkeiten unbeantwortet liegen bleibt. Vermeide deshalb unbedingt, für jeden Einzelfall einen neuen Ordner anzulegen, denn dadurch bringen Sie nur noch mehr Unordnung in Ihr Postfach. Eine grobe Aufteilung in beispielsweise drei Kategorien „antworten“, „warten“ und „abgeschlossen“ sollte dabei das Maximum sein.
2. Set aside conscious times for your inbox
Often, a new e-mail pulls you out of an activity you’re trying to get done. And that really has a negative impact on your productivity. Stop multitasking. E-mail management is not something you do on the side. Of course, working through it quickly is important, but this also needs to be done carefully. The majority of e-mails should ideally be done in the morning, then it’s easier to gradually process the other incoming messages as well. In addition, you can directly prioritize the important tasks to be done and decide what to start with. Set up a fixed appointment for your e-mail management two to three times a day and concentrate fully on the tasks to be processed during this time.
3. Accept that you do not have to answer every e-mail
Keep reminding yourself that it is almost impossible to answer every message. You have to try to change your personal attitude towards e-mails just a little bit. So if you open an e-mail and you know right away that you don’t need to reply to it, archive it. Or better yet, just send it straight to the trash.
4. When you answer – answer as briefly and succinctly as possible
Receive an e-mail that you need to respond to? Remember: A perfect answer is not expected. Usually, a few words are enough to convey the necessary information. If you’re concerned that regular curt responses will give the wrong impression, let the people you frequently work with or communicate with this way know about your approach. Say that you want to spend less of your time on e-mails and more on working through the tasks that arise from them. This includes having fewer words in your messages. To customers, of course, professional communication is important, but internally you can always be brief.
5. Use ready-made answers
Maybe you have e-mails that you write over and over again without having to customize them to the recipient. Use “Saved Responses” to avoid writing the same thing over and over again. For example, Gmail, Outlook, and other e-mail providers offer pre-written responses.
6. Cancel newsletters that do not add value for you
Make sure you get fewer e-mails. If you don’t get value from a newsletter, unsubscribe!
7. Unsubscribe from unnecessary mailing lists in your company
If you’ve unsubscribed from external newsletters, take a look at the internal list. Do you really need every piece of information? Probably not. If you find it difficult, then a good compromise might be a sub-order. Set up a rule for this in your inbox, so these messages are moved directly there and do not interfere between the really important e-mails.
8. Adhere to 1-click rule
The 1-click rule is a very useful way to improve your time management for your inbox. Often we think, “I can do that later, or tomorrow.” But then the various e-mails, often marked in different colors, are lying in your inbox without any structure and the probability is high that you will eventually lose track of them. As a rule of thumb, touch each e-mail only once. And if a direct reply is absolutely not possible – then decide what to do with it immediately after opening a mail.
9. Delete your e-mails!
Many mailboxes contain hundreds or even thousands of old e-mails. How many of them do you really need and isn’t the most important information from these e-mails already stored somewhere else anyway? Maybe in a direct customer application or another tool that you use for customer information?
10. Use other communication channels
E-mail management also means understanding when an e-mail is really necessary. Often, a short phone call is faster and easier. In the best case, you will receive a direct answer. You can thus check off the task and don’t have to wait for a response. Because your counterpart may also be inundated with e-mails. And companies often use other communication channels in addition, such as Teams or Slack. As soon as multiple channels are used for daily communication, it often becomes confusing.
11. Delegate e-mail with a collaboration tool
Incoming e-mails often result in tasks for which cooperation with additional colleagues is necessary. This means that the information from this e-mail must be made available to more than just the actual recipient. Clicking on “Forward” is a frequently chosen option here. However, this is not really efficient. It may also lose important file attachments or past messages that are necessary for successful completion of the task.
You can avoid this problem and time waster for example with Outlook Add In MAILISSA. With it you can file the e-mails including attachments directly in the right business context. For example, create a task in Trello or Jira directly from an e-mail. The tedious search for old messages or hidden folders is now a thing of the past.
Determine how you use your time – not your inbox
It is impossible to imagine our everyday lives without e-mails. They have always been, and will continue to be, one of the most widely used communication channels in our everyday working lives. The trend in the number of e-mails we send every day is rising sharply. With the right tips and tricks at hand, you can put a stop to the flood of e-mails and concentrate on the really important tasks.
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