Email was set to revolutionise how we worked – and it did. Yet all these years on the mere thought of another email fills us with dread. There are few things more discouraging than returning from vacation or a long weekend to a work email overflowing with unopened emails.
Despite being the most commonly used workplace tools, very few of us think about the amount of time we dedicate to email. Email distraction is at an all-time high.
When email first came into existence, we couldn’t wait to find an unread item in our inbox. Now the mere thought of another email fills us with dread. We are drowning in a sea of email daily, and it’s not doing anything to help our mental health.
Whether you strive for inbox zero, or can happily live with 2,000 unread messages, there is a high chance that email causes some stress in your life. The good news? These tricks reduce email distraction and allow you to be more efficient.
1. Establish a schedule to check your inbox
Save yourself plenty of time by creating a schedule to check your inbox. Only check your email at set times during the day, and keep it closed the rest of the time. You will stay focus and more productive.
If you need to be in your email through the day, set your inbox only to receive emails at certain times. That way you won’t be distracted outside of set emailing times.
Lastly, turn off email push notifications. There is nothing that enables email distraction more than pop-up notifications. Turn them off. Yes really. Turn them off.
2. Use templates and canned responses
You probably get emails that require the same (or similar) responses all the time. Create and save your standard replies as templates or canned responses to insert into emails as needed. You’re now sending an email in seconds instead of minutes.
3. Use rules to send emails to folders
Most email software allows you to establish “rules” that will sort emails into a set folder as soon as they arrive. If you get regular non-urgent sales department updates, send them to that folder. Doing this keeps everything in the right place without cluttering up your inbox.
4. Add a signature message
Add a statement to your email signature letting everyone know that you check emails four times a day, and if urgent, to walk to your desk or call you. This small addition to your emails sets expectations on your behalf. It also allows you to ignore your inbox until scheduled times. Peace of mind comes free of email distraction.
5. Use instant messaging instead of emailing
If you have an instant messaging system at work, use it! Instant messages are quick and take way less time to send and respond to. If your email doesn’t need to be referenced in the future, send an instant message. It’s an email distraction game changer.
6. Unsubscribe like it’s your second job
Tackle the root cause of email distraction. Instead of deleting unneeded emails, take a moment and unsubscribe or modify your automatic subscriptions. It will save you valuable time in the future as you aren’t wading through unnecessary emails.
7. Remove your email from your phone
Stop reading your email on your phone: the screen is small, you can’t see the details, and you will continuously start stress that your missing something important.
It is impossible to remove email distraction when it is with you wherever you go. Remove your work email from your phone and only check it on your computer.
8. Fine-tune your smart email etiquette
Email etiquette is just as real as video call etiquette. And it’s just as essential when avoiding email distraction.
- Don’t include everyone in your email or replies. If a recipient doesn’t need to have this information, leave them off the email. Keep the cc’ing to a bare minimum.
- Use a meaningful subject line that lets your recipient know exactly what your email is about.
- Be precise and concise. Get to the point without making sure every word is a perfectly crafted masterpiece. This is an email, not a Nobel prize-winning thesis.
- Have a clear Call-To-Action. It allows people to know what steps you need them to take. Make sure there is a clear direction, so you get what you need – not more questions.
- Before you hit send, use spellcheck and proofread one last time. Make sure your email is easy to read, and it makes sense. You want to avoid any misunderstandings or appearing unprofessional.
If you don’t need to send that email or reply, don’t. Save your time and other’s inboxes. No one else you work with needs email distraction either.
A little planning goes a long way to avoiding email distraction
Instead of allowing email distraction to run your day, start embracing better email habits. Start getting purposeful to control the time you spend on email. The more you work at it, the better your work will be, and you will need less time to do it in.
Email distraction is a battle you have to fight every day. Use these tricks to help you win. And remember, not everything is as urgent as it seems.