Email remains one of the most popular channels for business communication.
No wonder it’s hard to keep your inbox clean and organized when it’s usually flooded with email messages. Or should we say inboxes because the average number of email accounts is now close to 2 per user?
As email grew, so did the methods and strategies attempting to rein it in and help users take back control of their time.
If we bear in mind that according to surveys, an average employee spends 11 hours reading and responding to email messages every week, it’s obvious how overwhelming this activity is. And yet, it’s necessary to stay on top of your inbox and get all the relevant work information timely.
What’s further complicates things is the fact that there are way too many tips and email management best practices at work, and it can be difficult to pick the effective ones.
That’s why we rounded up a list of tried and true tips to help you boost workplace productivity by choosing the tactics and solutions that work for your team and business.
Email Inbox Management Best Practices
The tips that follow range from very simple to a bit more complex, and they’re a combination of methods suitable for achieving different goals. For example, some will help you finish your workday with zero unread emails, while others focus on helping you efficiently manage your inbox.
End the neverending email thread
It can be hard to make heads or tails of an email chain that looks like a Russian doll.
Instead of wasting your time trying to get to the bottom of things and scrolling to see the previous emails in the chain, do the following:
- Recap previous points
- Explain your problem
- Suggest getting together in a meeting, or create a collaborative document in which all participants could present their ideas or solutions.
Focus on emails that are relevant for your daily tasks, and leave the ones with longer deadlines for later.
Use a central email account
You found a better email provider, but it’s too much work to change your subscriptions?
Multiple email addresses causing you headaches?
Most email clients have a simple solution.
You can set up a system so that different email addresses are all delivered to one central account. Problem solved.
If you’re not sure how to do this, a quick Google search will help you out.
Don’t hesitate to hit the unsubscribe button
Unsubscribe from emails and newsletters you never read. If they were valuable and relevant to you, you’d most probably open and read them, at least from time to time.
This also refers to commercial emails offering huge discounts – if you’ve never purchased anything, then you’re obviously not interested.
This way, you’ll significantly declutter your inbox.
Implement email management techniques and tools
Your inbox can easily turn into a haven for hundreds of unwanted emails, a to-do list, or an archive for old emails.
None of these works long-term, especially keeping emails in your mailbox forever.
If you can’t delete email for compliance or ediscovery purposes, but your company imposed an email quota, hitting the dead-end is inevitable.
Here’s how you can handle these issues.
- Go for Inbox Zero, a method that will keep the number of unread emails in your inbox zero
- Declare Email Bankruptcy and delete/ignore all unread or unprocessed emails older than a certain date
- Triage your emails, that is, sift through your inbox and sort and filter your messages, but take no prisoners
- Try the yesterboxing hack, and answer only the messages you received yesterday
- Invest in an email archiving solution so that you can declutter your inbox without having to worry that an important message will be deleted or your email quota. If your organization operates in a regulated industry such as financial, healthcare, or education, you also face certain compliance issues. Thankfully, there is a solution that can help you respond to all these challenges. Email archiving provides a scalable, searchable, and secure email storage solution that is for everyone.
Empty your trash
There’s something oddly satisfying in deleting the documents from your trash folder when you’re about to wrap up your workday. You’ll feel good about having completed all your email-related tasks while keeping your inbox tidy.
Use the DND mode generously
When you have a lot of work, turn off your email notifications. This way, you’ll prevent distractions and boost your productivity at work.
Create an email policy
An effective retention policy should address your company’s data retention guidelines, procedures, and responsibilities.
It should also include retention timeframes for all the different types of data you want to retain and retention schedules that everyone will be able to follow and remember easily.
Usage policies can also help in reducing email security risks. Outlining how email addresses are used online, what information is shared via email and the types of transactions that are conducted can ensure that a stray email isn’t the cause of a security breach in the future.
Make your retention policy short and simple. The less complicated the policy, the more uniform your archives will be. Finally, make sure you review it annually. Laws and regulations change, and your policy needs to reflect that.
Secure your email accounts and use spam protection
There are several things you can do to improve security, but most importantly, it is essential to have a strong password and be careful when dealing with spam emails. They often contain attachments or links that can be harmful to your privacy or your computer.
Spam filters are the saving grace of inboxes around the world. Whether you set up your own or your hosted email provider has one built into their service, an effective spam filter will make all the difference for your business email.
Time Management Email Tips
Since managing your email can take up a significant portion of your day at work, it’s a good idea to introduce some time-management tips and tricks to help you boost your productivity.
According to some time-management experts, you should only check your email in the morning. Others insist on never checking your inbox in the morning or late at night. However, it’s best to find the time that suits you best.
Here are some simple tips to help you manage your emails efficiently.
- Block a timeslot in your calendar for responding to emails that aren’t urgent because this way, you will be able to focus on your messages at a scheduled time instead of stopping what you’re doing when an email arrives and dealing with it
- If you have more than one inbox, manage each in batches, that is, deal with your emails two or three times a day
- Organize your inboxes and file your emails properly
- Implement an email automation solution to speed up communication and prevent inbox overload. By putting messages of lower priority on autopilot, you won’t have to spend too much time on emails that don’t require you to take immediate action. It’s also possible to tweak your servers and only receive emails at predefined times of the day.
Inbox Organization Best Practices
There’s a world of difference between Inbox management and inbox organization.
The thing is that it’s virtually impossible to manage your email successfully unless your inbox is organized.
Try some of these tips to help you organize your inbox.
- Categorize your emails into folders, but don’t have too many of them
- Use labels to better organize your emails
- Don’t use the same mailboxes for internal and external messages
- Organize email whitelists and blacklists
- Sort emails before deleting
- Prevent clutter by processing your email messages promptly
- After reading, responding to, or acting on email messages, delete them (if possible)
Email service providers come with features built to separate legit emails from those that are spam. This will help you organize your inbox and subsequently manage it better.
Optimal Email Management Tools
By implementing email management best practices at work, you can streamline different processes related to handling your emails.
But, if you’re facing an extensive email workload, there are extensions or apps you can install on your PC or smartphone to help you efficiently manage your inbox.
As there are numerous tools, we’ve shortlisted the ones that you can greatly benefit from.
- Gmail Multiple Inboxes is a feature that allows you to consolidate different accounts and organize your emails into different sections.
- SaneBox is an email management tool with which you can organize your emails, identify priority messages, eliminate distractions, and get follow-up reminders, among many other things.
- Checker Plus for Gmail is a Chrome extension that will help you manage multiple email accounts without having to log into each inbox separately.
- Boomerang is an email productivity tool that allows you to schedule your emails, set up follow-up notifications, and get alerts that the recipient hasn’t responded.
- FollowUpThen is another email productivity tool that will help you remember to follow up and track your email responses.
- Hiver is a Gmail collaboration tool with which you can share emails with people who aren’t original recipients, delegate emails, exchange notes with your team, as well as collaborate on email templates.
- MailDrop allows you to prevent spam by not revealing your real address.
- Unroll.me is a tool that will mass unsubscribe you from tens and even hundreds of newsletters you’ve signed up for over the years.
- The Email Game will gamify the process of cleaning your inbox and make it fun.
Taking the stress out of handling and managing a crowded mailbox can be a challenging task, but it’s not impossible. You just need good tools to optimize the process and make sure that important messages don’t slip through the cracks while keeping your inbox clean and organized.
Jatheon is a powerful solution that will archive your emails in a compliant manner and store them so that they don’t take up the space on your server. It can also be used for archiving text messages, voicemails, social media posts, WhatsApp messages.