5 Easy Email Management Tips

Kimberly Medlock's picture

Email management is one of the top issues I run into when helping my clients. And it’s not surprising: the average professional receives 50 to 80 emails a day. If you don’t have some kind of method or system for processing these messages, you will quickly end up with a backed-up inbox, which creates that constant worry of, “What’s fallen through the cracks?”

Here are 5 easy things you can do today that will help you slash your daily email load. Fewer emails to process means more time for others tasks, like all the projects piling up on your desk. 

To begin, sort your inbox by “Sender.” Then:

  • Unsubscribe from unwanted emails. This is a simple and straight forward step that's often ignored. Look for the newsletters or marketing emails you receive on a regular basis and decide if you still really want or need them. If you don’t, then open one and use the unsubscribe link, then delete all the other emails from that sender. Note: only use the unsubscribe link from senders you know/trust.
  • Look for emails to “block.” If you aren’t comfortable or confident in using the unsubscribe link from an email, or if you want to block emails from certain people (and you don’t want to tell them to quit emailing you), then just block them. It’s simple: If using Microsoft Outlook,  right-click on the email and choose “Junk,” then select “Block Sender.” These emails should now go directly to your junk folder.
  • Create rules. Assuming you are using Outlook, it’s super-easy to tell Outlook which emails to automatically file for you. Best practice is to use the filing rules for emails that don’t necessarily require immediate attention. For example, I use rules for all of my social media accounts. All of my Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter notices are automatically filed for me in their respective folders. I know when there have been new posts to the folder because it changes to bold and shows the number of unread posts. You can use this kind of rule set-up for anything that can wait until you have (or set aside) time to get to it.
  • Proof your message before you send it. Trust me: it is likely you will find you need to make a correction or improvement in 90 percent of the emails you send. When you send an incomplete email without all of the facts or missing an attachment or when you are too vague about your questions or needs, this generates unnecessary reply emails. 
  • Don’t check your email so often. When you are checking and reply to email 20 times an hour and especially if it’s someone with whom you are friendly, you often get caught up in the back-and-forth of friendly email pings. Develop a regular schedule that allows you to manage incoming email without letting it dominate your day. Of course, it’s not wrong to be chit-chatty with a friend or co-worker, but only if you have the time.

Email doesn't have to be a nightmare. Follow these five email management tips and you'll begin to get a handle on your inbox. That way, you can stop worrying about what's falling through the cracks and turn you attention to getting more done so task don't pile up in the first place.

(Kimberly Medlock is a productivity expert and president of Smarter Training Matters.  She works with companies that want happier, healthier, more productive employees.  Her signature training courses include Get Organized with Outlook, Smarter Time-Management and Smarter Email Matters. You can learn more about why and how she does what she does at www.SmarterTrainingMatters.com  or email Kimberly@SmarterTrainingMatters.com. Medlock will be taking her expertise to EFAM 2013 July 27-31 in Anaheim, Calif., where she will be a workshop leader.)