5 Tips to Tame Your Inbox and Be More Productive

Email just keeps coming.

We’ve become so accustomed to checking email — not to mention Facebook, Twitter and other social media networks — that we respond automatically, conditioned like Pavlov’s dogs.

What to do? Consider these ideas for taming the deluge of email:

1. Unsubscribe

No, you can’t ignore messages from your boss, key team members and other critical work influencers. But do you really need to subscribe to sale alerts from your favorite retailers? Or updates on your social media activity?

Yes, unsubscribing takes time, but it saves time in the long run.

One other idea: Establish an email account strictly for “junk” or “fun” emails. Check that account only as time allows.

2. Install a productivity app

Newton, SaneBox and Streak are among the apps and tools that allow you to prioritize and filter email, automatically respond and more.

3. Respond smart

First, turn off audio and visual alerts for emails. Then, set a time of day during which you will respond.

That sounds easy, but how do you make sure you don’t lose business by not immediately responding to an email from an important client — or your boss? Use email tools to automatically respond to messages and tell them when to expect a response.

An example of such a message would be: “I am out of the office, but will return at 8 a.m. tomorrow. I will respond as soon as possible after that time.”


4. Don’t delete, but do archive

Some people keep email in their inbox for fear of losing it. As long as you don’t delete such emails, you should be able to find them again using search features. So, archive your emails into a separate folder and get them out of your inbox.

5. Change your thinking

Think about your physical mailbox — the one in which you get your physical mail. You don’t check it 20 times a day. You don’t let the day’s mail dictate your entire schedule. And you don’t take the mail out, look at it and return it to the mailbox.

If you develop a similar attitude about your email inbox, you’ll reduce stress and boost productivity.

What tricks have you learned for taming the flood of email and other electronic interruptions? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.

Jim Gold contributed to this post.

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