If managing email seems to be taking more of your time than ever before, it’s not your imagination.
According to technology research firm The Radicati Group, businesses comprised 25 percent of email accounts but generated 61 percent of all emails sent — 89 billion business emails were sent per day in 2012. Yes, per day. No wonder we’re overwhelmed. What’s more, emails are expected to increase 13 percent per year through 2016.
Starting to hyperventilate? It’s time to climb out of email’s “black hole” and take control of your day. Use these tips to manage email better, faster, smarter — and more important, get your real work done.
1. Look at it; deal with it
Schedule time to check your email three to five times per day. If you open email, handle it. If not, do something more productive. Strive for no scroll bar in your inbox at the end of each day.
Rules allows you to move incoming emails directly to specific folders or trash before they hit your inbox. Be sure to set calendar appointments to review the emails you sent to folders. Using rules allows you to efficiently review similar information at your convenience and maintain control of your time.
3. Use out-of-office notification
This sets people’s expectations as to when they may hear from you. It also helps them decide if they need to take other actions when they learn you are not available.
4. Provide a clear subject line
The subject line should give readers a distinct picture of what is in the email. Change the subject line before you reply to an email if the “Topic/Subject” has changed in the back and forth of communicating.
5. One subject per email
It’s better to send several emails to the same person regarding different subjects than trying to jam several non-related topics into one email. This keeps information from getting lost or overlooked.
6. Be brief
Do not write the history of the world. The body of your email should not exceed the open screen view.
7. Get off distribution lists
Unsubscribing keeps “no value” emails from clogging your inbox — and your day.
8. Turn off the sound and visual notices
These devices interrupt your concentration. If you’ve planned time to review email, there is no benefit in knowing every time something hits in your inbox — better to concentrate on the work at hand.
9. Send less, get less
10. Don’t cry wolf
Only use “!” and other visual signals for the rare emergency.
Finally, email is not a good collaborative tool. Telephone calls, live meetings or video conferences are much better at problem solving than electronic e-talk, which misses the collective brainstorming.