6 email productivity tips to get more work done every day

How much time do you spend checking and composing emails in a day? How often do you click that ‘send/receive’ button to check for any new incoming emails?

Research shows that employees spend around 28% of their time in the office responding to, reading, or composing emails. Furthermore, it’s estimated that the average person checks their emails anywhere between 70 and 350 times a day.

Therefore, it’s no wonder that we often feel stressed just looking at the inbox icon on our computers. The good news is that we’re here to take some of that stress away with our top six email productivity tips.

1. Start your day outside of your inbox

It’s become a habit to start our working days by logging into our email inbox and working our way through the unread emails, slowly accumulating as we move along. Before we know it, it’s time for lunch and all we’ve accomplished is to get lost in a sea of incoming emails.

Take some time first thing in the morning to sit down and write your to-do list for the day. Once you’ve figured out your priorities, don’t procrastinate online. Jump right in and tackle the worst thing on your plate. This is also known as ‘eating the frog’.

After getting the worst task out of the way, the rest of your day will feel like a walk in the park and yes, you can check your emails now.

2. Run the SADS test on your emails

There are some people that you’ll email and find that there’s a 50/50 chance of them responding or carrying out any of the actions that you mentioned. That’s partly due to how they manage themselves and their email etiquette.

However, how you structure your emails can also be a big part of it. As a rule of thumb, always make sure your emails pass the SADS test.

Your subject line should be short and indicate the action needed. Make sure that the call to action is clear. Besides telling them what to do, also make sure you tell them when to do, by including a deadline. Last but not least, keep your email short and break up the text using headings, so it’s easier to digest.

You can view some SADS email examples on the Think Productive blog.

3. Don’t check your emails when you’re not working

As much as processing emails is a daily habit and part of everyone’s routine, make sure that it doesn’t overflow into your personal time.

It might be tempting to stay on another 15 minutes to reply to some emails, but before you know it, you completely missed your lunch break or stayed an hour longer than you were supposed to.

It’s important to remember, emails aren’t a form of instant messaging and if the office is on fire, nobody will email you about it.

Restrict checking your emails to your office hours and take a proper lunch break. Resist checking your inbox once you’re out of the office – nothing that can’t wait until tomorrow will be waiting in your inbox.

4. Control your schedule

Similar to what we’ve discussed above, make sure that you’re in control of your schedule and your time spent on various tasks, rather than your emails taking over your day. This will help you to de-stress.

You have a to do list for a reason. Instead of trying to get project work done around profusely processing your email, schedule in two to three time slots a day to reply to and compose emails.

5. Consider the alternatives

If your inbox becomes cluttered with updates that you’ve been copied into and you find that important emails are getting lost, it might be time to take a step back and reconsider your team’s communication manifesto.

Some companies have introduced a programme called Slack to share company-wide updates. The platform can also be used for chattier every day conversations. This means that emails are confined to external communication and more time-sensitive matters.

If you’re feeling brave, also consider picking up the phone or even walking over to a colleague to ask a question. Not everything belongs in an email. So, use it to your advantage and get away from your desk while you’re at it.

6. Become an ‘inbox zero hero’

No matter how many emails you currently have lingering in your inbox, it’s possible to get them down to zero. All you need is a tried and tested system which will help you have more control over your inbox.

At Think Productive, we turn our workshop delegates into ‘inbox zero heroes’ through folders named @action, @read and @waiting. We also have various other tactics that we discuss in our email training.

Ready to take on our email productivity tips?

Hopefully the above insights should give you some food for thought to help you manage your inbox and be more productive at work. Good luck!

Need more productivity tips? Check out CV-Library’s article on the four ways to organise your workspace and be more productive.

About the author: Think Productive is one of the world’s leading time management training providers. Its range of practical, human and straight to the point workshops have been transforming the productivity and wellbeing of leading companies and organizations around the world.

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