Let’s face it: most of us are a little ashamed of our email inboxes. And we may have good reason to be- managing the constant influx of email traffic can be overwhelming, and can lead to some pretty substantial mountains of unread messages numbering in the thousands (guilty!) as well as a real hit to your productivity. In an ideal world, it would be best to address each email to prevent things from slipping between the cracks. So how does one even begin to tackle the challenge of managing an email monstrosity, and starting to make your inbox work for you? Try some of these tips!
1. Use an Out of Office Auto-Responder
Help stop the email pile-up before it starts by activating your email’s out of office responder. It only takes a minute, and can save you headaches down the line. Personalize a message, specify the dates you want the message to be active, and get ready for a much-needed break! The best part of this feature is that you can still view and address any emails that you feel are urgent, but each email you receive will trigger an automatic Out of Office reply that lets senders know when they can expect to hear back from you. Pretty neat!
2. Use Gmail’s Smart Compose feature
Imagine that autocorrect could predict what you were about to say next, put it into an email format, and you have Gmail’s Smart Compose! This feature predicts your next few words based on common email phrases from other users, and by simply hitting “tab” you can input the suggestions. Not only does this save you some typing and composing time, but email replies are now faster than ever, and will always sound professional and feature excellent grammar and spelling, so you don’t even have to proofread! If you send a great deal of email each day, this feature can save you some serious time.
3. Create a filter for unimportant emails
If you aren’t taking advantage of the sorting features of your email inbox, you’re doing email all wrong! By creating personalized filters, you can send certain types of emails that you still want to see to other folders where they aren’t cluttering up your priority inbox. It’s similar to sorting your snail mail: you may have a pile for bills, a pile for coupons, and a pile for personal correspondence. Put that same sorting to work in your email: create a “shopping” filter, a “work” filter (or multiple!), and a “personal” filter. That way, everything stays in its place and you can increase productivity by only viewing work at work and everything else during breaks or at home!
4. Utilize Priority Inbox
Even if you have email filters in place, your main work inbox may still be full to bursting. What now? Fortunately, the Priority Inbox feature in most emails allows you to label your mail so that you can prioritize what needs your attention first. Label your emails as “Follow Up” or “Read Later” so you can be as productive as possible and answer urgent queries first.
5. Create Canned Responses for FAQ’s
Do you tend to receive many emails asking the same question repeatedly? If only you could set up an “FAQ” section for your inbox, right? In a way, you actually can! Simply look up your preferred email service and “Canned Response” and learn how to set up this feature in settings. It only takes a couple of minutes, and the same generic response can be auto-filled into an email reply in mere seconds! This time-saving trick may also save your sanity and prevent you from having to answer the same question for the tenth time in one day.
6. Schedule emails to be sent later
If you are the type of person to wake up at 3 am with a sudden realization that you have to share with the team, but don’t want to disturb your colleagues, put this email feature to use. You can easily write an email and instead of hitting “send”, choose a time to schedule the email to be sent (such as 9 am Monday morning), and enjoy the feeling of taking care of business without making enemies in the office!
7. Sign up for Unroll Me
Game. Changer. The new Unroll Me service is the perfect solution to the problem of receiving too much mail! If you are regretting signing up for the daily email subscription to newsletters, retail coupons, or if you don’t actually recall being put on an email list but can’t stand the sight of another junk email, Unroll Me is for you. It analyzes your inbox to see what emails you are subscribed for, and rather than logging into each website and unsubscribing, you simply checkboxes down the line of your subscriptions, and Unroll Me does the work for you! You can also create “Roll Ups”, where you bundle several similar email types (such as retail promotions) into one email that you can open on your own time.
8. Use a plug-in to make emails actionable
Do you ever wish you could turn your emails into a to-do list that is linked with other project platforms? Plug-ins like Trello and Sortd are helping to make this a reality. Boost productivity like never before: set up task lists that emails are automatically sorted into, add reminders and notes to your inbox with Sortd, and then combine these with project resources and timelines in Trello. Creating a digital whiteboard that is linked to your email is now a reality, and can keep projects moving and help to keep you and your colleagues on the ball!
9. Pause your inbox
Even if you are using one, two, or all of these productivity-boosting hacks, you may still need to step away from the inbox in order to actually get some work done! Consider using the Pause tool in your email service, so you can turn off notifications and reduce distractions, creating the perfect environment for some real productivity! You can feel accomplished once you turn the inbox back on and maintain that momentum!