It’s been reported that we spend more than five hours a day on email…and it’s set to just keep on rising! So, I’ve pulled together my top eight tips to get the most out of this “always-on” technology.
1. Have a system
Each email that lands in your inbox needs to either be “done”, “delegated”, or “deleted”. If you need to deal with the email and it takes less than two minutes – just do it and it get off your plate.
If it’s going to take longer than two minutes, in Gmail (online) you can add it to tasks or snooze it for later. Just right-click the email and you’ll find “add to tasks” and “snooze” in the menu.
With Outlook (online) you can flag an email for today, tomorrow, this week, next week a custom date. This is a quick visual way to highlight important emails in your inbox with the bonus of a time-based reminder too.
2. Archive don’t file
Don’t create folders for your emails. Read the email, categorise it as above, and if it doesn’t require further action, archive it. The search function in most email clients these days is great, so save yourself time and just archive your emails instead.
3. Create templates
Both Outlook and Gmail allow you to set up email templates. These are great time savers if you find yourself sending the same emails over and over again.
4. Set up undo send
We’ve all done it … sent an email before it was complete or worse, sent it to the wrong person! What if you could “stop” an email being sent “after” you hit the send button?
In Gmail you can set the send time for up to 30 seconds and in Outlook for up to 10 seconds.
In Outlook email head to settings > view all Outlook settings > compose and reply then update the “undo send” to the maximum time of 10 seconds.
In Gmail head to settings > see all settings > general and update the “undo send” to 30 seconds.
5. Gmail stars
You can change the default yellow star on your Gmail email account. You can choose different colours, exclamation points, question marks etc. Use them for a quick visual way to differentiate your emails in your inbox. Head to settings > see all settings > General > Stars and you can drag and drop your preferred icons.
6. Send emails later
Both Gmail and Outlook allow you to schedule emails for later. Instead of clicking the “send” button, click the down arrow to the right-hand side of it and click “send later” (Outlook) or “schedule send” (Gmail). This is great if you’re working in the evening or weekend but want your emails to send during business hours!
7. Convert an email to an event
In Gmail you can create an event from an email. Click the relevant email, then click the ellipsis (three vertical dots) in the top menu bar and click “create” event. This will open a new calendar invite with the body of the email included, ready for you to add your attendees and send.
8. Set time aside in your calendar to deal with emails
Have time set aside in your calendar at the end of each week to deal with the emails sitting in your inbox before you switch off for the weekend. You may be able to archive or delete items, delegate them, or there may be items that are still awaiting information that can be flagged or snoozed for later.
So, there you have it, these are just some of the many ways you can use your chosen technology to help you wrangle your inbox. Are there any missing that you swear by? Let me know in the comments.