Every year, our email inboxes get fuller and fuller. For many people, email is the preferred method of communication due to the ease of sending emails. Unlike with phone calls, both parties don’t have to be available at the same time, you can send the same message to multiple recipients, and you can copy and paste blocks of text without rewriting. Here are tips for getting the deluge under control:
Don’t let everything pile up together in one overwhelming Inbox. Filter on senders and keywords, categorizing incoming messages into folders. Deal with the important email first. Let the rest wait until your low-energy time of day.
Don’t Always Reply
Ruthlessly purge low-priority emails. You have no obligation to reply to unsolicited emails. Requests for links, sales pitches for services, and proposals for business relationships are often not considered spam, but they really are. A common tactic they use is to act like you owe them a reply. “Didn’t you get my email?” “What do you think?” “I have not heard back.” “I look forward to hearing from you.”
You have no obligation to reply. Hit Delete and move on. Your time is valuable.
Don’t Assume Someone’s Ignoring You
If you don’t hear back from someone that you do expect a reply from (such as a vendor or someone else you have an existing relationship with), check your spam folder before complaining or giving up. A sender can’t control your ISP’s spam algorithm.
If you still think someone’s not responding, consider giving them a second email address for you in case your ISP is not processing your email from them. Email isn’t and has never been perfectly reliable.
Convert Email to Tasks
Like with paper mail, process each email only once. Make a decision about the email on the first pass. If you need to respond immediately, do so. If you won’t respond and it doesn’t affect you, delete it.
Convert remaining email into concrete tasks. Put it on your to-do list if you need to respond later or act on the information.
If you need to keep the information from an email for future reference, put that information somewhere safe, preferably with other related information that you might need at the same time. For example, save data related to a project with your other project data. Don’t leave it in your email client software, where you may never find it again.
Personal Knowbase excels at keeping bits of information for future reference.