Whether you are a solo entrepreneur or fit into a larger organization, email probably takes a lot more of your time than you’d like. According to a 2015 online survey by Adobe Systems, the average white collar office worker spends 6.3 hours per day dealing with email! With over 25 hours per week spent in your inbox, even a small change or efficiency improvement can make a big difference. Follow these seven life hacks to maximize your email efficiency in the office, at home, and anywhere else your email travels.
Unsubscribe From Unwanted Newsletters
The first step in spending less time managing email is getting less of it. An analysis by TextRequest.com shows that the average email user gets 88 messages per day and sends 32 per day. That means you likely get 2.5 times the number of emails you send each day!
If you ever get an email you don’t want, don’t be bashful pressing that unsubscribe button at the bottom of the message. Email list owners are required by law to offer an unsubscribe option. If you don’t see one, hit that spam button to give the message the treatment it deserves.
To unsubscribe from emails in bulk, check out the service Unroll.Me. Gmail users get a shortcut when they open a message from any compliant sender. Look for an unsubscribe link next to the sender’s address and you might be able to remove yourself in one click.
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Use Filters and Labels to Only See What You Want
If you get emails from specific people or groups that are all related, you might not want to see them every time you open your inbox. Instead, you can filter and label those messages for later with your email client’s filtering and labeling feature.
Gmail, Outlook, Apple Mail, and other email interfaces offer the ability to tag and filter incoming messages by setting rules for specific senders or keywords. Now you can filter out messages relating to your volunteer job as your kid’s soccer team treasurer to deal with on weekends rather than cluttering up your inbox.
Archive instead of deleting
Do you ever have a thought like, “I wish I still had that email with important information I need but I deleted it!” If so, you are not alone. But it’s 2017 and you no longer have to use the delete button.
Email services like Gmail and Outlook offer free, giant inboxes that mean you should never have to delete an email again. I have removed social media notifications, old newsletters, and other useless messages permanently, but otherwise I have kept every single email since I signed up for Gmail in 2008. If I ever need to reference an old message, I just search inside of Gmail and can get information I need in a jiffy.
Outlook.com users allegedly get an unlimited inbox size for free while Gmail users are limited to 15 GB. If you run out of space in your Google account, you can upgrade to 100GB for $1.99 per month.
Don’t Feel Obligated to Reply
As a business owner, you probably get oodles of unsolicited emails. While you should always reply promptly to customers and sales inquiries, if you get an email trying to sell you something, it is okay to hit archive (or delete) without a reply.
Many people who send you messages do so through platforms that send automated messages and follow-ups based on a template and a spreadsheet or database of prospects. Templates are usually easy to spot, and you should feel no obligation to respond. If you do, a simple “no thanks” is often enough to get you removed from the list.
Keep Replies Concise and On Topic
Research shows that long emails are often never read. The ideal length for an email reply is typically around 3-4 sentences. Don’t add a bunch of fluff and pleasantries in every message. Get to the point quickly and concisely.
Do not use short words or abbreviations like you might in a text message. Keep your communication professional and use proper spelling and grammar. But focus on being concise and getting the most information out with as few words as possible.
Supercharge Your Webmail with Plugins
If you use Gmail and the Chrome browser, you have many additional tools to supercharge your email. Through browser extensions in the online Chrome plugin store, you can add new features to your inbox that make your work-life much more efficient. Here are a few favorites, all with a basic free version, to get you started:
Streak – Streak turns your Gmail inbox into a fully functioning customer relationship management (CRM) platform. Create funnels, trackers, and more as you usher each prospect through the sales process. The plugin also gives options to snooze messages, send later, and track opens for sent messages.
Rapportive – Rapportive connects with LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter to quickly show you a summary about the person on the other side of the email. The plugin searches for profiles connected to the other person’s email address and grabs useful information like their job title, company, and location.
Clearbit – What Rapportive does for personal details, Clearbit does for company information. Clearbit pulls in details about the other person’s company and even lets you search by name and company to find email addresses for anyone at any major company in the United States.
Boomerang – Boomerang is a lightweight plugin that gives you a send it later and snooze feature. If you have an email that you want to follow up with if you don’t hear back in two weeks, just type that into Boomerang and the email will re-appear in your inbox when the specified period expires. Similarly, snooze messages to get reminded about it at a later date.
Follow the 3 Ds: Do, Delegate, or Delete
Now that you have systems in place to make your email easier to manage, the last step comes down to your own decision making process when emails arrive. If you have to open and read an email more than once, it is stealing precious seconds and minutes from your workday. Instead, follow the three Ds every time you get an email.
Every time you open an email, quickly decide if it is a do, delegate, or delete. Messages that don’t require any follow-up can quickly be archived or deleted. Messages that you want to send to an assistant or employee can be forwarded and delegated. Messages that require a response or follow-up action should get a quick reply or added to a calendar or to-do list manager for later action.
Many online workers and business owners are guilty of using an inbox as a to-do list, but that is a major productivity killer. Instead, follow these seven hacks including the 3 Ds to ensure a healthy relationship with your inbox for many years to come.