You know the situation too well – you are doing something, when an email pops in. This causes you to drop whatever it was that you were doing, and reply to that email.
By the time you get back to your original task, you lose that ‘productivity streak’ or ‘flow’.
I’m really focused on my time management at the moment. As our business grows I am finding simple productivity hacks more and more useful.
Don’t lose your momentum at work and get on top of email with these simple tips.
1. Schedule time for emails
One way around this is to check your email only at certain times during the day. Depending on your workload, you can either choose to do this after you have completed a task; or at fixed times that are separated by at least a couple of hours. Three hours seems to be the optimal time, but this depends on your nature of your job.
But I rely on my emails to know what to do each day…
I hear you. It may happen that what you do during the day is determined by the flow of emails. There are still ways in which you can improve your productivity.
2. Filter, filter, filter
When you receive an email, first look at the subject line and the sender. Is it a social media notification that someone has commented on your post, a post that you were following or commented on? Or that someone has ‘liked’ or retweeted your tweet? Much as these emails intrigue you (they are designed to), they also kill your productivity. You do not have to read them.
Is it from a colleague? If yes, what does the subject line say? Is it a request for you to do something? If that is the case, you need to decide whether it is urgent (as in it needs to be replied to instantly) or it can wait. For this, you might have to read the rest of the message. But if it can be replied to later, flag it and get back to doing whatever it is that you were doing. Most email platforms allow you to set rules to automate this but depending on the volume of emails you recieve, a quick scan might just do the trick.
3. Organise your folders, and your life!
One productivity hack is have a separate folder – you could title this ‘Pending Action’ – and put all such emails there. You could set apart some time, preferably at the end of your workday, to reply to these emails. The chances are that you will surely have the time to do so. And thereafter your productivity is sure to increase, and this results in you finishing you tasks much earlier than before.
4. Implement the One-Minute Rule
This is another way in which you can reply to emails faster and avoid them piling up in your ‘Pending Action’ or To Do folder.
A lot of us lose time checking that we’ve replied to everything, read everything, done everything. Blocking time to check emails, filtering, filing and actioning those that can be actions straight away, can save you from that niggling feeling that you’ve missed something.
As always, the best strategy is not one which is rigid, but flexible. So, what works for you?
Let me know in the comments.
What to know more about how I plan my day? Read about how I save time in managing all our social media channels, and the rest of my work.