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Productivity_June14_CLook at your emails, how many do you have that require your immediate attention? If you answered zero, you should be commended. If you answered too many to count, you’re among the majority. While it would be nice to reach and maintain the near mythical zero, you should first aim to ensure that your inbox is organized so you can leverage it to increase your productivity.

Here are four tips on how you can gain control of your inbox, and become more productive with your email.

  1. Schedule time to check email. Many managers rush to check their email as soon as a new one comes in, they have this feeling that they’re going to miss something important. Barring a massive meltdown of your system, that’s not going to happen. Instead, all that happens is you break your concentration and end up wasting time. What you should do is schedule 3-4 times a day to check and reply to emails.
  2. Filters. Your standard inbox is a dumping ground, all emails important and otherwise go to the same place. Through the use of filters, you can ensure similar emails are grouped together into folders that will make it easier for you to pick and choose which are most important. Creating a filter can be done in many email programs with the press of a button.
  3. R&R. This stands for Read and Respond, which is what you should be doing with every email. When you look at your email, read through it and take necessary action. If it’s an email that someone else can reply to, forward it right away. If it’s an email that will take time to reply to, mark it as important, send an acknowledgement and take the necessary actions. Basically don’t collect emails you will forget about eventually.
  4. Subject lines, use them. Time and time again, the subject line is neglected, or used improperly. How many emails have you gotten that have a subject that doesn’t make sense? Remember the purpose of the subject line is to inform the recipient what to expect in the body of the email. As such, subjects should be clear and informative and convey the main point of your message.

Through the efficient use of subject lines, the R&R method and filters you should find that you’re not only more productive due to less interruptions, but you will be able to quickly assess and act on the most important emails. With a good system, you should, in the long run, spend less time focusing on your email, and more time focusing on work. If you have any other questions about how to conquer your inbox, please contact us.

Published on 15th June 2012 by Jeanne DeWitt.

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