How often do you make a phone call to get something done? Not as often as you used to, right? We communicate digitally now more than ever before. Our inboxes are flooded with newsletters, invites, bills and actual relevant emails. Knowing which items require immediate action and which can be put on the back burner, will help you cross tasks off your To-Do list a lot quicker. Here’s how to learn to prioritize emails to become more productive.
Organize Your Inbox
One of the most important steps to having an efficient way to prioritize emails starts with an organized inbox. I only recently understood this practice. My husband always says that the emails in your inbox should only be the ones needing your attention. Everything else should be filed away, so not add clutter and distract from the essential items that require immediate responses.
- Create folders and a filing system for your emails
- Set up rules to auto send weekly updates and other mass emails to a file
Skim Your Inbox
Often emails come in faster than you can respond. When you have a full inbox, don’t just start at the top when it’s time to tackle them. I recommend skimming your inbox, check for important senders and subjects to respond to first. Reply in order of importance! Look for items that are meaningful to you as well as those that are time sensitive.
- Start with the most important messages first!
- Reply to those that you can answer in 2 mins or less, then work on those with longer responses.
- Don’t be afraid to follow-up on items that have pending responses to help cross items off your To-Do list.
Get Rid of Junk
Are there emails in your inbox that you planned on reading, but know you never will? Guess what, it’s time to delete them! You signed up for that store’s newsletter to save 15% off your purchase, but haven’t shopped there since. Unsubscribe and delete all useless emails that are no longer important to you.
- Consider multiple email accounts, one for only newsletters, promotions and nonessentials emails only.
- Unsubscribe to unimportant mass mailings that you never read and clog your inbox.
One of the best lessons that I have learned in prioritizing is that another’s person fire does not always require your water. Meaning, not every email, especially group messages, requires a response from you. Additionally, people often create a false sense of urgency just because they want something done when it’s convenient for them. The key to maximizing productivity is understanding what is important to you and your goals and tackle those items first.
- Understand that every email does not require a response.
- Flag emails for follow-up and mark as completed to help organize your workflow.
Turn off Alerts
Taking a more holistic approach to balance your time between emails and actual work will ensure maximum productivity. It’s important to block off times in your schedule for returning phone calls and responding to people. Try to fight the urge to answer all emails right away, it might seem like a quick tactic to keep your unread emails under control, but it takes the focus away from the task at hand.
- Turn off your alerts, so you’re not distracted from the current task at hand.
- Respond during your allotted times or when you find it compelling.
How do you prioritize emails to stay productive? I would love to for you share your tips!
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