Email is essential, but is a massive user of our time and attention. There are loads of great tips for better email habits out there, but here are a few that I find work for me.
1. Don’t live in your inbox. I use an extension for GMail that hides the inbox by default, so that if I open my email client to look for something, I’m not distracted by new things that have just arrived. Other people just quit their email application once they’ve done what they had to do, and don’t launch it again until they really feel they need to. Whatever works – just don’t keep glancing at your inbox every minute.
2. Either label or archive emails. If you can’t deal with it and archive it, then label it as “respond today”, “waiting for a reply”, etc. The idea is that you always know why something is in your inbox at a glance, rather than having to open the email to remind yourself why it’s not filed away, never to be seen again.
3. Read through all your new emails before answering any. It’s amazing how often you read an email, do some work based on what it says, then find out there was another email in your inbox that made that work unnecessary. This can work in conjunction with (2) above; just keep ‘reading’ as a separate session to ‘responding’.
Whatever your own tips and tricks, just always resolve to spend less time on email next week than you did last week. Your blood pressure will thank you for it.