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5 Email Time Management Tips – They Really Work!

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Email time management tips that work

Solid email time management tips. They really work!

Once in a while I get asked, “Mike, what do I do about managing the thousands of emails I have in my in-box? My response is simple.

I say, “Try this some time. Next time when you are in your email in-box, press the shift key and while holding it down click on your latest email all the way to your oldest. Once every email is highlighted, press the delete key. It really works! They all disappear.”

Now, please don’t write and tell me this is stupid. I understand why you might say that. However, think about it, if an email was really that important it will be sent again. And the rest; probably not that important any way.

We can easily get sucked into wasting a lot more time than we need to in our email in-boxes. I would bet it is the first thing that most of you do every morning. And it would probably be safe to assume that you check it on average 10-20+ times a day. Be honest… okay?

Here are 5 email time management tips to help you be more efficient with email. Email is a critical tool, but it can become an unproductive tool very quickly.

1. Schedule. Scheduling time to check email is probably the most effective thing you can do right away. I suggest scheduling 11:00 AM and 4:00 PM. This schedule gives you ample time in the morning to tackle the most important things first before diving into email.

Some of you may need to schedule more frequently. But checking email more than four times a day is probably too much.

2. Unsubscribe. Do you belong to a list that you no longer read? Are you getting advertisements for things you won’t ever buy? If the answer is yes, which I supposed it would be with most, then unsubscribe from those lists. There is a link at the end of most emails that gives you this option.

3. Call. Don’t get sucked into the dreaded email chain of persuading and clarifying. Simply pick up the phone and make a call.

4. Turn off. Turn off auto-checking for new messages. Whether it is a ding you hear or a notification you see pop up, turn it off forever. It is a distraction and temptation you don’t need. Better yet, shut down your email program completely until you have scheduled time to check it.

5. Only once. Never read a message twice. Open the message, do something with it and be done with it.

Much of our time in email can be highly unproductive. What additional tips do you have? Have you ever used the “delete all method” before? What are your thoughts?

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Leave a Comment

  • Minalini July 17, 2012, 7:14 am

    Great read. I totally agree with your suggestions. I wish my brain stores this information permanently.

  • Mike Rogers July 18, 2012, 4:03 pm

    Thanks Minalini! I wish my brain would too : ) That’s why I blog I guess.

  • Lee September 23, 2012, 6:31 am

    You can’t be serious about deleting emails because if they are important they will be sent again. I like your other tips but that one is most disrespectful. If someone took the time to compose a message to you, the least you can do is read it and respond (however briefly). Nothing wastes more time than wondering if someone got your message, having to follow up, and searching through old emails to send again.

  • Mike Rogers September 26, 2012, 1:37 pm

    not so serious Lee, just trying to make the point that we would probably miss very few of those we deleted : )

  • Amy Hinz Sweet June 18, 2013, 7:46 am

    I am a big fan of both the unsubscribe and delete methods, although I am a bit more discriminate about which ones I delete. I have been known to have upwards of 2000 unread emails at times, and that’s really a low estimate and not at all unusual. I love gmail for this reason: I can set filters and labels to manage this stuff! So when I get overwhelmed I choose one of the new emails that I know I won’t read and I open it, unsubscribe, and then filter for all of the other emails from this sender to be automatically sent to the trash in case some get through, and then delete them all. Sometimes I will do this with several in one day. I don’t miss anything important and I only deal with it once. I am currently down to 120 unread emails and due to have another purge session this week. It feels pretty good. Thanks for your tips, Mike. I’m enjoying your organization tips a lot.

    • Michael Rogers June 19, 2013, 7:32 pm

      Your welcome Amy. Glad you liked them. 2,000 unread emails is a lot! You must be a very in demand person. But it sounds like you are managing it well. I use filters myself and they really help. Hopefully you won’t hit unsubscribe with our emails ; )



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