Nowadays, it is unthinkable to imagine work life without email. Although this is undeniable, if this tool is poorly managed, it may have negative effects instead of helping and simplifying processes.
Having an inbox with excess information is something quite common for millions of people. It’s normal to have repeated information, to find it hard to make even the simplest searches or to consult something specific. Sometimes, it can get to the point when we don’t even have available space in our inbox and important messages aren’t delivered. All of these signs of disorganisation lead to stress, frustration and to an increase in the time spent managing emails.
To solve this problem you need to create standards and be disciplined. First of all – always delete unimportant emails without fear, leaving your inbox solely for unread messages or pending issues. You should aim to have an inbox where you don’t even need to scroll. Another one of the golden rules is to file old messages you will still need to have at hand in a systematic and organised way.
To easily implement these tips, it is really useful to define a structure for the files you need. Standardizing emails in terms of subjects and structure of the body of text is helpful too.
Once you have this patterned behaviour and habit in place, it will be simple to identify the action or need for answer that each incoming message has, either due to the subject line or through the structure it is written in (using bullet points and tables helps to convey certain kinds of information).
To optimize email managing it is also important to create a communication grid that will focus on defining the mailing list for each kind of email, so you can handle message overload.
These standards and best practices have to be shared with everyone involved, guaranteeing that they are accessible and visible, so that the new organisation is kept up to standard. For those who get more than 30 emails every day, creating effective search tools in the inbox and automatically forwarding emails to their respective files (rather than doing so manually) will make a big difference.
For example, you could forward the emails in which you are only cc’ed to a specific file and create a repetitive task to check it daily or weekly at a specific time, after priorities have been sorted out.
The better use of email will be linked to positive factors, such as increases in productivity, ease in locating important information, cuts in stress levels and increases in motivation.