Email Management Near Me

Using email is a common activity for many of us that can take up precious minutes and maybe even hours a day. How to efficiently manage an email inbox so as not to waste more time than actually needed?

Local Email Management Near Me

Where to start?

I know there are tons of rules, techniques, and tools for efficient mail handling.

I recommend that you start with the implementation of the Inbox Zero methodology. When I was preparing this article, I did a little poll among my friends. And I was surprised how few people have heard of this method!

Near me is about getting into the habit of categorizing and quickly making decisions about what to do with a given email. It allows you to achieve peace of mind and a sense of control, which is the result of frequent zeroing of your inbox.

It takes some time to develop this habit to make it almost automatic (this is what happens with changing habits). But its implementation gives immediate results. Not in a month or a year, but even in 15 minutes. I admit that today I cannot imagine organizing my e-mail in any other way. And the feeling of ending a day or a week with an empty mailbox (I note that I do not always succeed) – priceless!

Therefore, if you are not using it yet, I encourage you to read this article first. I also plan to prepare a checklist – how to implement Inbox Zero in your mailbox in simple steps. Let me know if you would like to get something like this from me?

  1. Limit the number of messages you receive.

Even if you process them faster, new ones come to your inbox every day. For some people, having to reply to hundreds or dozens of e-mails can be a nightmare. The higher and more responsible the position, the more likely you get. And processing them is a “meta-work” that brings no added value and consumes your time.

In such situations, the use of Near Me is a drug that alleviates only the symptoms of the “problem”, because it does not reduce the number of e-mails that come to you. So let's think about their source at the same time. Do I need to receive so many messages a day? How can you limit this or even opt-out of e-mail as a means of communication?

Mass of e-mails as a symptom of a crisis of trust

It happens that the avalanche of e-mails is a symptom of a culture of low trust among employees and superiors. And such so-called “Dupochrony”, to have a “washer” in case of need. If the supervisor forgets about the arrangements that are important to me, or the employee does not fulfil his promises, you can always say – “I just sent you this by e-mail.” In this way, even ordinary employees can receive up to several dozen additional e-mails a day.

However, even where the level of trust is high and work efficiency is additionally taken care of, e-mail can become an unwritten indicator of status. “Put me in CC” (or the Polish version of “put me in DW”) is often not only the desire to be up to date with the flow of information. If you get less than a hundred a day, you are not important (or read: forget about promotion).

It is worth checking whether this is not the case in my work and facing this misconception. It is known that changes in such thinking do not happen overnight, but on the other hand, maybe some first brave individual must finally initiate this process of change?

Don't write, talk

We often contribute to the fact that we receive more e-mails. Theoretically, I know that sometimes it is easier to get up and go to a friend's desk next door (or make a phone call or make a Skype call) and get it done in 5 minutes, instead of switching between e-mails. Not to mention the fact that it would be better for me to stretch my bones instead of sitting in front of the computer. And by sending subsequent e-mails “because it is easier this way” I create a situation of double waste.

Therefore, maybe it is worth realizing that such laziness not only contributes to an increase in the amount of work but also affects health (my spine after spending too much time over the monitor reminds me of it every day with pain in the loin area).

Communication through tasks

When you work as a team on a project or documentation, there are many more effective methods of communication than flipping through e-mails.

You can communicate by comments on specific tasks and sharing projects – there are tons of very useful applications in this area.

Ultimately, when working with specific files, you can use the folder sharing option. There are a lot of tools on the market (Dropbox, Google Drive, Onedrive, etc.). But probably the company you work for also has its own network drives, thanks to which you can share folders and materials. In a situation where, for example, several people are working on one document, it is easier for everyone to make changes on the fly in one file than when everyone sends each other different versions of the document. In the latter scenario, it is easy to lose track of which is the most up-to-date.

Thanks to such measures, you will reduce the number of received e-mails. Or maybe an additional benefit will be the separation of communication channels. The one with the rest of the world (i.e. with customers, contractors, etc.) should still be e-mailed, and the design and internal company should be done on other platforms. What do you think? Can it be even partially implemented in your workplace?

  1. Don't read e-mails since morning

What is the first thing most white-collar workers do when they come to work? She probably starts an email inbox (right after opening Facebook, of course) and reads what has flown to her in the meantime. And then he gets so “involved” in taking care of them that he doesn't have time for other things anymore.

Don't get me wrong, but if you don't work in customer service or it is your strict responsibility to constantly monitor your email inbox, I advise against reading emails first thing in the morning. Morning is the time of best productivity. Then you have the most energy and others are not yet “awake” and do not bother you. So, block off those first hours for something that is most important to do for the day. Alternatively, do what is the most difficult (in personal development terminology it is called “eat the frog” 🙂– nice, right?). You will see, even if the afternoon goes away, you will still thank yourself at the end of the day for the fact that you have already done this most important thing.

  1. Turn off your email inbox while you are working

Perhaps this will be the most important mental change that should happen in your head! We don't have to be available all the time! Sometimes it seems to us that the world will collapse without us, that the company or my department will cease to function if I do not reply to everyone “here and now”.

It is already a disease of our times that appeared with the advent of the era of social media. If right after you wake up you check what is happening on Facebook, your mobile phone is still online, and during the holidays you feel best in places where you can catch Wi-Fi, then “know that something is happening” :).

Have you ever been absent from work for a long time, e.g. due to illness, departure or holidays? And what? Has the world collapsed because of it? Probably not. There are no irreplaceable people. If Apple didn't collapse after Steve Jobs died, and they still make cigars in Cuba without Fidel Castro, then maybe the company you work for won't collapse immediately if you refrain from replying to everyone's e-mail immediately.

Probably many people reading this will be indignant – but how? After all, at work, I can't just turn off and ignore my e-mails? However, this is not about ignoring them completely, but managing them properly.

What are your responsibilities?

Speaking of duties, I suspect that if you work in sales, your main task is to attract customers and develop a sales plan. If you manage people, it is for them to achieve specific goals set for your team or department. If you are the chief financial officer, you should keep an eye on the company's expenses and take care of a good financial result, shouldn't you? In any of these positions, is it a key task to reply to emails instantly?

At work, no one pays you for the mere fact of being “busy” or for how many e-mails you answered today. (Although looking at the cult of being busy that exists in some companies, I have doubts.)

Of course, e-mail is a tool that helps you accomplish your tasks. After all, customers, colleagues or your boss probably communicate with you like this, and it's hard to change. But tools are just like many other things in life – you need to use them as much as they help you achieve your main goals, and discard them as much as they interfere. (Okay, I admit, I got that maxim after St. Ignatius, whom I am a fan of 🙂).

If, on the other hand, answering customers' e-mails is one of your main responsibilities, then maybe it is worth thinking about introducing some improvements in this field? In addition to monitoring the inbox, you probably have a list of other tasks. What if you talked to your boss and set some rules?

  1. Check e-mail at specified time blocks

Speaking of rules, maybe the e-mail box is managed by several people? Then it's good to establish the times when you can turn off and someone else takes control of the e-mails.

And what if “turning off” the box is contrary to the rules prevailing in a given company, because the standard is, for example, writing back to the customer within no later than, for example, 30 minutes? I leave it for individual consideration. Maybe you can just set the times when you reply to e-mails? Ideally, it would be no more than 2-3 times a day, but if you have to do it more often. Remember, however, that when you process e-mails, try not to do anything else during this time.

If, on the other hand, you can decide for yourself when you reply to emails, it is good to check them in separate time blocks at specific times of the day. First, so as not to get distracted. Secondly – according to near me- a given activity takes us exactly as much as we have planned to devote the time to its implementation! This means that if, for example, we schedule an hour for a meeting, it will take us so long, even if we achieve what we intended earlier. In other words, time limits force us to make better use of the available time and work more productively.

You have to decide for yourself what times are the best for me. But when you do, stick to them.

  1. Process each message only once

Read each e-mail only once (and preferably only at a specific time). Then decide immediately what to do with it. This means when you don't have time, don't read your e-mails!

It probably sounds quite unreal. I know how tempting it is to open a freshly received, still “warm” message. However, getting into the habit of doing this can really save you a lot of time and peace of mind.

And in the effective management of your inbox, is not about constantly checking e-mails, but about actually handling and processing them. So there's no need to do double work.

  1. Mail filtering and message rules

Opinions are divided on this. On the one hand, it is good to automate various processes, on the other hand, filtering can be risky because it is beyond my control, I may miss an important email, etc.

I choose the golden mean. I am the best filter for mail, it is only important that I do it quickly and efficiently. There are types of e-mails that I want to be automatically sent to the appropriate folders (e.g. e-mails from the supervisor), because I want to have them separate from other messages. I decide the rest myself because I'm afraid my filters would have to be either too complicated or they wouldn't work as I would like them to.

  1. Disable any email notifications

I didn't realize it before, but receiving e-mails can be as addictive as a cigarette or alcohol! You do not believe? The notification of a new e-mail that pops up on your computer or phone causes your brain to release a dose of dopamine, the so-called happiness hormone. I do not deny that the human body needs it (especially since its deficiency causes drowsiness, apathy, fatigue and low concentration). But admit that you can get your hormone levels in a healthier way: sun exposure, exercise, diet, etc.

These are redundant activities, which are one of the types of waste that I have described in my e-book. It's a good idea to turn off such notifications on your computer and phone at the same time. When the number of unread e-mails is not displayed on the e-mail icon, I am less tempted to go in and check if something new has arrived.

A separate matter is all kinds of messages you receive from social networks, for example, Facebook and Linkedin. Let's start with the fact that they can send a lot of notifications because their goal is to lure you there to spend as much time as possible on them. Instead of deleting a few or even several dozen e-mails every day (which is not impossible if you have a large network of contacts), it is better to turn off all e-mail notifications in the settings of each social network.

  1. Don't check your email on your phone

With the advent of smartphones, our ability to receive e-mails from almost anywhere in the world has increased (as long as we have coverage). Unfortunately, this often backfires and doubles the amount of work. Of course, it is nice, standing in line in the store, to answer a few e-mails and have them “overcome” (ie using the “2-minute rule” from the GTD methodology in practice).

But how many times are many of them can't be sorted out right away? As a result, not only is there a risk that you will mark an important e-mail as “read” and forget to write it later. Probably this “pending” issue will be like an “open loop” that constantly weighs down on your head or thoughts. Worse, you don't realize it.

In my opinion, it is better to spend the time standing in a line or waiting room for reading or listening to something valuable. I try to always have a few e-books or materials on my phone for which I normally don't have time. I also like to take headphones with me often and listen to podcasts that interest me.

If you know in advance that you will be in a place where there is no normal Internet access and you need to answer emails, take a laptop with you and set the phone as a router (for data transmission). It will be easier for you to write and manage a mailbox from your computer. As a last resort, you can also buy a portable Bluetooth keyboard for the phone. It's always better than typing on the small keys of a smartphone.

  1. Unsubscribe from all newsletters you do not read

Be honest with yourself. If you haven't read the newsletter in the last few weeks (or deleted something three times without reading it), what is the chance that you will do it in the future? Really leave only the most important ones for you (the less the better).

  1. Set up a separate spam box

Very often, e.g. when shopping on the Internet, you have to enter your e-mail address, which then receives a lot of advertising. To deal with this, it is a good idea to set up a separate e-mail box for the so-called spam.

Although I do not encourage you to such an amount, I must admit that I currently use 5 mailboxes (and I do not exclude setting up another in the future). Among them, there are three private and two business ones. Thanks to them, I manage to distinguish different areas from each other, and it works quite well for me.

I set up my first e-mailbox only during my studies (yes, yes, there were times when the Internet was not widely available). Back then, it served me for all communication with the world. Currently, I only use it for private matters and for communicating with family and friends.

In the meantime, as if in parallel, I set up a second mailbox for all unsolicited e-mails. I go there very rarely, usually to find a message every few months, and at the same time delete a few hundred e-mails with advertisements (or not, when I don't want to waste time). But it is the address of this mailbox that I give mainly when I do some shopping online. This is my spam box only :).

However, I use business mailboxes only during work. One of them is my main inbox and there are not only e-mails from colleagues and clients there, but also for all newsletters and other information related to work. The second is for dedicated e-mail campaigns that don't want them to get mixed up with the rest of my work e-mails. Generally, the division is clear, “after hours” I do not think about them.

  1. Use templates

If you get a lot of e-mails, probably some of them are repetitive, or concern matters that can be easily grouped by topic. And if so, it is worth defining these repetitive topics and preparing ready-made answers.

In customer service or sales, these may be customer inquiries, requests for quotes, e-mails related to the execution of orders, etc. In internal communication, these may be cyclical topics – regular reports, summaries, meetings, repeatable projects. As a freelancer, you can often send offers yourself or get similar questions related to the scope of your service, etc.

Define these types and try to write a response template. You don't have to create the entire list right away. You just need to do it successively. Each new answer that you can use in the future, attach to a previously created list or the appropriate place in the application.

Maybe you know any others that would be worth recommending in this place?

  1. Learn touch typing

Learning touch typing helps you reach a higher level of productivity. Anyway, it can be easily measured. Regular keyboard users, even if they type fairly quickly, have a maximum tempo of 20-25 words per minute (about a hundred strokes). Apparently, you can do it even 2-5 times faster when typing with touch-typing!

The more time you spend replying to emails, the more it can improve to learn to type quickly. You may find that something you used to take half an hour to do will take 10 minutes or less!

It always seemed to me that I type quite quickly and without errors. But when I did the speed test available here I was shocked at how many mistakes I made. By the way, I was disappointed to achieve an average speed of 117 beats per minute, which puts me at the bottom of the list of people who took part in this test …

Anyway, judge my results for yourself below:

Number of Errors Made: 204

Number of characters: 2401

Number of Typed Characters Per Minute: 117

Writing Time: 10.37 min

Time Billed For Errors: 10.2 min

The best is said to be able to reach dizzying speeds from 240 – 450 beats per minute! It seems to me that I will put the science of speed typing on my priority list …

  1. Use keyboard shortcuts

It is not a “must-have” and the first need. But if you've already mastered the main principles I described above, and mailbox management is an essential part of your work, using keyboard shortcuts will make it even more efficient.

You don't have to learn all the shortcuts right away! It is enough that, for example, you choose a few or a dozen of them that you use most often. Take a moment to observe what activities you most often do in your e-mail inbox and print yourself a “short-list”, which you can then stick to the side of the screen to learn it quickly. 

Know of any other cool sources for keyboard shortcuts? Let me know, I'll be happy to link you!

  1. Mail is a messenger, not a knowledge archive

Today, in many workplaces, email is not only a form of communication but above all, an archive of documents, a repository of all knowledge or even a list of tasks. Where are we looking for any documents, summaries or findings from the meeting? Of course, “on medium”!

It should not be like this!!! 🙂

I know that today's e-mail programs index messages better and better, and searching for information on many of them is faster than it was a few years ago. However, often, getting what we need means digging through some messages along the way. God forbid if many people are working on a document and exchanging comments. Not to mention how much it strains the mail servers and makes it necessary to archive e-mails, etc.

Imagine you want to go back to the contract document you discussed with your manager a year ago. First, think about it – how many e-mails do you get on average per day? Then multiply that by 250 (that's the average number of working days in a year). This is the number of e-mails your e-mail program has to comb to find the information you need. Probably then it will also “spit out” a list of e-mails from which you have to choose the right one (and you are wasting time again). What if you need a document from 2 years ago?

So – keep files and documents in specific locations specially created for this. Of course, this requires some thought beforehand about what and where you want to save. Save tasks in dedicated applications (easier to manage, prioritize, move etc.), and let e-mail be used for communication (if necessary).

  1. E-mail before the holiday …

To ensure a gentle return to reality after the holiday, it is worth thinking about it before you go on holiday. 

It is obvious to set up an autoresponder while you are away. Remember not only to inform your recipient when you are away, but also who they can contact in your absence. After all, many things can often be arranged by colleagues, which means that you will have less work to do when you return. If only you would like to repay for this help yourself, when you, in turn, stay in the office and others go on vacation!

… And after the holiday.

I do not know about you, but it happened to me more than once that despite the application of the above rules, I still have to process tons of e-mails after my vacation. In this situation, it is better to browse through and deal with them than the most recent ones. Sometimes some of them are sent multiple times with a copy to me. That's why I start reading them from the very top of the box. It saves a lot of time, because as a rule, in the last e-mail, I see all previous correspondence at once, which means that I do not have to waste time reading all previous e-mails on the same subject.

What if you manage a larger team and you receive dozens (if not hundreds) of e-mails a day? After returning from vacation, it may take more than a few days to dig out. Maybe instead of laboriously digging up one e-mail after another, manage and announce something like “hard reset” in the company?

I know that not everyone can afford it, but … I know the story of a person who, after returning from vacation, seeing that it would take her at least a week to clear the inbox, announced to everyone that she would not reply to emails. Instead, she shared her calendar with employees, asking them to arrange 15-minute meetings if anyone needed anything from her. It turned out that settling all matters took less than 2 days.

Better any system than none

After reading all these rules, you can get scared, especially if you haven't had any system for working with your e-mail so far. How to efficiently manage your email inbox when there are so many of these rules?

Take it easy, don't worry. I wanted this article to be a condensed “knowledge pill”, but it doesn't say that you have to implement everything right now.

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