Recently, I happened upon a Life Hack article by James Clear. He shared with us five excellent ways we could employ to get faster email responses. James said that in his discussions with people about their email habits:

“The number one complaint is that people don’t get responses to the emails they send out.”

This made me think that there should be a responsibility for us as receivers of email to do our utmost to keep on top of it all. You don’t want your inbox to be known as the Bermuda Triangle of inboxes: messages go in, never to be seen again.

Here are a few tips on how to manage it:

  1. Unsubscribe. Try to limit the email ‘noise’ by unsubscribing to all publications that you haven’t read in a certain period of time, depending on the frequency of the publication. If you want to check in with a particular blogger or business, put the site in your browser favourites and check in when you have a spare few moments. You probably won’t even miss knowing what Lady Gaga is up to, and you’ll definitely lessen the burden of a bloated inbox.
  2. Automate. If there are certain subscriptions that you just can’t part with,  many email applications allow you to manage your inbox by implementing automated filing of messages into a folder for later perusal. This helps to separate the later reading from the messages from your boss/client that are important and need action. Plus, if you automate it, you don’t have to lift a finger. The emails will be waiting for you when you are ready to read them. You can catch up on all the celebrity gossip at your leisure.
  3. Delete. If you are starting to feel weighed down by all those unread email messages in your ‘Later Reading’ folder, delete. What are you missing in the grand scheme of things–an email telling you 5 things you should never do on Twitter? I can assure you the cure for cancer is not in one of those deleted emails.

So that’s the decluttering, what about how you manage email?

Many people procrastinate and the fact that the person is not right in your face demanding something somehow makes it easier to ignore email.

But think of it from the sender’s point of view. He or she is probably wondering:

  • Did she receive my email? Is she working on the task I have given her? Am I going to have to, heaven forbid, do it myself?
  • Why doesn’t he respond to my email, is he offended by my suggestions that he use a more effective deodorant?
  • It’s been two days since I sent that email to XYZ service provider and they’ve not even acknowledged my email message, perhaps I should look for another person to do this lucrative, career-boosting project?

Here are a few things you could do to be a courteous and effective email communicator:

  1. Do it now. If it is something you can do quickly, just do it. You’ve just unsubscribed to that celebrity gossip blog, so you should have some free time to do, you know, work.
  2. Close the loop. If you have done something that someone has asked of you, let them know it is done. Plus, because you ‘did it now’, they will be pleased with your quick turnaround.
  3. Acknowledge receipt. If you are unable to do it now, acknowledge receipt and try to advise an estimated time/date that you can get back to the sender.
  4. Thanks but no thanks. If someone is touting their business to you  and you don’t have any interest in their services/product, tell them so. Be polite and to the point, but do take the time to respond. It costs nothing to be courteous.
  5. Use the phone. If you are reading an arm-length email with many questions, rather than type out a response, sometimes it is much quicker to address the email in a telephone conversation.
  6. Use Auto-reply messages. If you have a high-volume of email due to some common trigger such as a promotion or registration for an event, it can be useful to use an out-of-office/auto-reply message to confirm receipt and to advise the senders when you will be able to respond to their queries. Most people are happy to know that you received their email message and will get back to them within a reasonable timeframe.

I hope you found these tips helpful. Do you have any suggestions on how to manage email?

Is Your Email Inbox the Bermuda Triangle?
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