How To Manage Emails Effectively

It’s so easy to get lost and overwhelmed with emails. In fact, one study showed the average professional spends 4.1 hours per day responding to work messages. So, how can you manage emails effectively? What are the secrets to efficient inbox management?

We naturally struggle with saying “no”. As a professional, you don’t want to disappoint people and miss out on possible opportunities to do great work. But recognising the consequences and impact on your time is essential when managing your emails.

This means it’s important to focus on the few emails that are actually a high priority. Avoid getting lost in the endless flood and focus on the small batch of messages that matter the most. Putting a ‘flagging’ high priority messages can help you tackle the important emails that need immediate attention.

Here are some quick tips to help you manage emails effectively:

  • Keep your inbox tidy. Create folders to organise emails by category. Use labels to prioritise emails. You can also set up filters that will automatically route messages into folders.

  • Reduce your email volume. Unsubscribe from unnecessary bulk email. Social media can often relay the same information. Limit the use of "okay" or "thank you" emails. As an alternative, use the phrase "Thank you in advance" when sending a request. Use the reply all option with discretion, and only when all truly need to be included.

  • Manage your own expectations. Clarify expectations regarding email response time and after-hours/weekend responses. Communicate when you are available to respond to an email. Include a message in your standard signature block that states, “I check emails Mon-Fri between the hours of 8am-4pm.” Remember that you run your email; don’t let your email run you.

It’s also important to practice good email etiquette which includes manners, courtesy, and respect. Be polite. Include a courteous greeting and closing. Read your email out loud to ensure the tone is what you intend. Choose words that reflect your meaning. If you find you are feeling emotionally charged when writing an email, take a break and calm down first.

However, it’s still important to make sure you’re responding to emails within a reasonable time-frame. Try to reply to your emails within 48 hours of receiving them. Leaving unanswered emails for too long may result in your respondent feeling neglected and can reflect poorly on your company.

Emails will always be with us. As the need for digital communication grows, managing your emails and time is more crucial than ever. By understanding the noise ratio of our inboxes and practising good email etiquette, you can make smarter choices and manage emails effectively.