3 Email Efficiency Tips

I wanted to share a couple quick email efficiency tips that have been helpful over the last couple weeks.

When scheduling a meeting, instead of asking “What time would be good to meet?” suggest a exact time and day with two alternatives that work for you. Also provide a link to your full public calendar with event details hidden (I use ScheduleShare for this). For example:

Would 2-2:30pm on Thursday the 12th work for you? If not, would Wednesday at 10:00am or Thursday at 11:00am work? Feel free to suggest another time that works best for you; here’s my full schedule: LINK

Also, when you’ve decided on a meeting time, create a meeting invite and include a conference line as the location of the calendar event:

I just sent over an invite with a conference line. Feel free to suggest another conference tool.

This avoids another round of back and forth deciding which conferencing tool to use, and then asking for Skype/G+/etc usernames. I’ve found that for most one-off meetings, a simple analog phone line works best: it doesn’t require any software, and eliminates the always-present audio issues that exist with software-based conferencing solutions.

If you are responding to a unsolicited request, don’t feel the need to write a full in-depth response. Provide some value, and then ask the correspondent for some additional information that will require a thoughtful response on their end. I’m a people pleaser and a perfectionist, it’s been a discipline for me not to help anyone who comes asking for help. Often times, I’ve found that when pressed for more information about the problem someone is facing, I don’t receive a reply and end up saving myself a lot of time writing a thoughtful response.

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How I Learned to Stop Being Dominated by My Inbox

I Turned It Off

Everyone complains about email. There’s a reason: it’s a big stack of todos without context, priority, categorization, and some emails are hard to quickly handle and sit there representing a bunch of non-project work that needs to be done.

Message queues with no context destroy your productivity. They scramble your brain.

The best way to handle queues – whether it’s email, text messages, project management, etc – is to turn it off and batch process in a constrained amount of time.

Tim Ferris checks email only twice a day. This might be too extreme given the culture you are working in, but turning off your email for hours at a time could be a game changer. Try it.

I Stopped Feeling an Obligation to Respond

There is an unspoken obligation we feel to answering every email. A feeling of failure if we don’t clear our inbox. This took me a while to learn:

You don’t have an obligation to respond to every single email

This means you can delete emails without reading or responding. Feel the freedom to clear the inbox of requests that don’t hold significant value for you: focus is key to accomplishing anything great.

Read how top CEO’s manage their inbox. None of us get as much email as them, but it doesn’t mean we can’t use some of their strategies.

I Unsubscribed from Everything That I Didn’t Consistently Read

Our culture is permeated by the fear of missing out. I hate unsubscribing from newsletters that I’ve gotten something valuable from in the past; I fear that I’m going to miss out on something important in the future.

However, if something is important, you’ll hear about it. Or you’ll search for it. Or someone else will tell you about it.

The information isn’t going away, and it’s impossible to keep up with the firehouse of information. Unsubscribe from every newsletter/mailing list you haven’t read in the last couple weeks. Trust me: it helps.

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3 Quick Tips for Managing Your Inbox

Email is hard. It’s so easily abused and can be an enormous time suck. Here some quick tips that I’ve been trying to implement over the last couple months:

1. Unsubscribe from any newsletters you haven’t read in the last month. The information won’t disappear if you don’t read it. If it’s important, you’ll run into it somewhere else. More emails is more noise; kill the noise, be realistic about how many newsletters you can read.

2. Use Unroll.me to manage newsletters you want to read. This tool bundles all email newsletters into a single daily email, reducing noise throughout the day.

3. Setup Gmail filters for any transactional emails that you never actually read. Credit Card statement notifications and Amazon transactional emails were the biggest culprits for me.

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