Don’t waste your day on email

I think time management as a label encourages people to view each 24-hour period as a slot in which they should pack as much as possible.
Tim Ferriss

In its annual Wasting Time at Work Survey, Salary.com reported that 89 percent of respondents wasted time at work every day and a small proportion admitted to wasting half of their working day on non business related tasks.

According to Atlassian, in a given week, we receive an average of 304 business emails, check our inboxes 36 times in an hour, and spend 16 minutes re-focusing after exiting our inbox.

A 2012 study revealed that workers spend more than a quarter of the day reading and answering email. If you work for yourself, you have to ask how much time you might be spending or wasting doing exactly that when it could be used more productively.

That’s a frightening amount of time and even if it is just 1 hour per day that can amount to over 16 days of lost time per working year.

So, I’ve put together a few articles that offer some great tips and advice on how to cut down on email related work. Hopefully it will help you get through the day without even opening your email client at all so you don’t have to keep looking like this-

Jim-Carrey-typing-furiously

Here’s a couple that I like and use to great effect-

#1 cut down on junk email.

First thing I learned was to unsubscribe from lists. Most email marketers use email systems like Mailchimp and Aweber and those companies are very strict about spamming contact lists. At the bottom of probably every email you receive there will be an unsubscribe option and it only takes one click to stop receiving email from that person. It may take 20-30 minutes to go through some emails and then just a a few minutes a day for couple a day after that as new ones arrive, but before you know it you will stop receiving 90% of the emails you don’t want. Failing that, if it really is just junk email, report them using the “Report Spam” option.

#2 only check your email twice per day, maximum

This one may be hard to swallow, but if you think about it, how many emails do you really get that need to be answered immediately, or even within a few hours? So stop checking your email every 5 minutes. It may take a bit of willpower, but turn your email client off and only check it maybe twice a day or even less. You can even set up an autoresponder that states something like – “We are working hard on providing the best customer service to you and all our clients. To that end we check email at 12pm and 4pm and will get back to you then. Thank you for your patience and understanding.”

#3 Use email templates

Why rewrite the same emails every time when probably 80% of the replies you write are almost the same except for a little bit of personalisation. Gmail offers a great template option, although unfortunately named “Canned Responses” it works really well. Plus, an email template only has to be written once and you can perfect most of the content, spell check it and make sure it has the vital information you need to get your message across. It cuts down on mistakes and missed opportunities where you forget to convey what you should have said.

Inc.com offer some really nice 8 Hacks for Better Email Management and great software options to use along with your preferred email client. They also explain that we are not alone with the email management problems as you’ll find 1,080,000,000 search results in Google if you search “I need help with email management.” The good news is you’re not alone in feeling overwhelmed at managing your inbox. The bad news is there are, apparently, a billion different ways to do it.

I also thought an article by 99U on email management would be good to include in this blog post as if you haven’t heard of 99U then you are in for a treat. I’ve bookmarked this site as it has heaps of wisdom, tips, advice and knowledge on a myriad of subjects and the source of the information is always good and well researched.

They offer this advice-

A good rule of thumb is to strive to keep emails to one line or less.

and

Non-actionable correspondence should be labeled as such – so that it can be prioritized accordingly.

And lastly, here is Hubspots – 25 Gmail Keyboard Shortcuts That Save Me 60 Hours Per Year.

The author, Scott Tousley, says that he invested about two minutes into learning keyboard shortcuts for Gmail and since then it’s saved him a lot of time. For example, one second per email action (ex. deleting, reply, composing, etc), equals roughly 15 minutes per day and calculated over one year it has saved him approximately 60 hours . That’s almost 8 days, just from learning a few shortcuts that takes a few minutes.