How many times a day do you get distracted by the little email notification popping up in the bottom corner of your screen? We’ve conditioned ourselves to have a nearly Pavlovian response to that little envelope: We simply must drop everything and see what’s going on, otherwise we might miss something important or anger someone for not responding fast enough.
Here’s the truth: checking your inbox constantly is a surefire way to never get anything done. Instead, try one of these methods for a more orderly and efficient way of checking email, one that will actually help you be more productive all around.
- Establish some rules. Most email systems will allow you to create rules for which new messages are filtered directly into your inbox and which go to other folders (more on that in a moment). By streamlining what you’re seeing when you open your inbox, you’re helping to keep only the most important things in front of you if you only have a moment to scan new messages. You can prioritize based on sender, subject line, just about anything — however helps you best keep things on track.
- Folders are your friend. Much like rules, most email systems allow you to set up a series of folders where you can direct mail based on sender, project, whatever you need. If you’re working on several projects at once and need to separate out the details from each one, folders can help keep things in order. Lesser-priority tasks can have their own folder. Emails from your manager can go into their own designated space.
- Schedule email breaks throughout the day and set a timer. If you give yourself designated time to check your email, those messages will be the sole focus of that period. This helps you pay better and closer attention to the messages and the tasks outlined therein instead of juggling email on top of writing that proposal or filing those documents or whatever else you’re doing at the same time. And when the end of your email time is up, you move on to something else, knowing you’ll have another chance to check your inbox a little later.
- Unsubscribe to things that don’t help. While you might not be able to unsubscribe to all emails from some senders, anything that doesn’t serve a direct and real purpose to your work should be tossed into the trash. Hit the unsubscribe button for newsletters you once needed, or spam, or mass mailings that go to the whole company (so long as the sender isn’t the big boss, of course). Get rid of the clutter!
- Give up the goal of “inbox zero.” It’s such a lovely idea but it’s most likely a unicorn, something you can try to capture but will find an exercise in futility. Or if you do finally clear out every little thing in your inbox, it won’t last long. All this causes undue stress that you don’t need! Instead, do your best to keep only the most important and pertinent messages in your inbox at any given time.
We only have so many hours in a day. Stressing about email takes up too much time as it is — don’t let it! Try some of these methods on for size and see what works best for you. You’ll feel better as a result!
If you’re looking for other pieces of advice, or maybe it’s time to change jobs, call Davis Staffing. We have great positions available with companies looking for someone with your background and experience and we’d be happy to help put you in touch!