12 Ways to Manage Your E "Monster"

Written by KB Published in
Thought Leader Blog Post

Over the last few months we have been sharing our research on Workplace Productivity with numerous stakeholder groups. Without fail, the subject that consistently gets the most focus and subsequent discussion by all groups is the use of email and the impact it has on workplace productivity.

It seems the ability to manage an inbox is by far, fast becoming a capability that is crucial for success.  To this end – we have researched and collated our 12 top tips to start taking control of your email inbox.

This is more about building up healthy habits than it is about skills. We recommend ‘trying on’ a different technique a week with the end outcome of implementing 3 that work for you on a permanent basis.

   1. Send less email
- This will result in you receiving less email. Pick up the phone when you need a quick answer and reply only to emails when absolutely necessary.   
   2. Create an E routine
- Instead of replying to an email once you’ve received it, and constantly having to look over your inbox for new ones, set a time dedicated solely for responding to emails. Whilst best practice suggests twice a day – in my experience checking emails 3- 4 times a day for approximately 40 minutes each time should keep the ‘urgent’ requests at bay.
    3. The more specific you are, the less follow-up questions there will be - If you include everything the sender is asking in one email, you will no longer have to clarify. If you are likely to receive questions – pick up the phone or book a 5 minute chat later in the day to close out any questions or issues that are likely to trail on for days via email.
    4. Have email free time - Having email free time at least once a day creates a 90-minute window that is reserved for something other than email. Close your inbox and resist the urge to check emails on your phone. 
   5. Keep it short
- If the email is more than a few sentences – pick up the phone. Complex messages are likely to inspire questions. You will get a quicker and more effective outcome in a 5 minute conversation (the time it would take to write the email) than 3-4 email exchanges.
   6. Confirm receipt
- When the sender needs to know is that you received the message, send a short letter notifying such receipt. This will prevent any confusion that may arise in the long run about whether the message has been received or is being acted upon.
   7. Be careful about what you say
- What you say in an email can easily be misconstrued. As such, try not to make an antagonistic reply that will be put on record and can easily stir controversies. Any conversation of this nature should be held in person.
   8. Prioritise
- Not all the emails that you’re getting require immediate response. Select the ones that are directly related to important issues or come from key stakeholders in the company and respond as appropriate. Everyone else can wait 3 hours (or even 24!)
   9. Use the ‘Search’ Function -
This way, you don’t have to wade through your email in order to find an email that’s seemingly impossible to find.  
   10. Mark as Unread
- Another email wonder that often goes unused is the Mark as Unread function. If something important requires a response but at a later time, you can get back to it by using this function.
   11. Remove spam or relocate personal emails
- Unsubscribe from emails that you never get to read anyway, or alternatively re-subscribe from an email address like gmail that is checked once or twice a week.
   12. Respect everyone else’s inbox
- If you wouldn’t pick up the phone to tell them don’t CC them. CC in email is the biggest accountability shifter. Be selective of whom you include in an email via ‘cc’ asking yourself first: Would I pick up the phone and spend a few minutes sharing this information personally? Whilst it takes 3 seconds to include someone in an email, generally you are implying the message is important enough for them to allocate time to read it, therefore it better be worth it!

Finally as a people leader – agree on email protocol within your team so as to limit the level of unnecessary communication going back and forth.

Thought Leader, Kate Boorer is an employee engagement and performance expert.  


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