10 Email Management Best Practices and Tips

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email management best practices

Last Updated: June 2024

In the fast-paced digital age, mastering email management best practices is not just a choice but a necessity.

Every day, professionals receive an overwhelming 121 emails, making inbox control a real challenge. Handling this flood of messages steals away 28% of our workweek, constantly disrupting our lives.

With overflowing inboxes and crucial messages often getting lost in the chaos, it’s imperative to streamline your email communication effectively.

Buckle up as we unveil the top 10 tips to revolutionize your email experience, ensuring your messages hit the right notes, every single time.

1. Allocate a specific time for your emails every day

People check their email around 74 times a day, causing a lot of stress. To handle this, it helps to set specific times for dealing with emails. 

Instead of leaving your email open all day and getting distracted by notifications, schedule blocks of time just for emails. Focus only on emails during these times, without any distractions. 

Following this method can help you feel more in control and reduce worries. Tim Ferriss suggests using a simple email template, a trick that works even for important emails. 

Remember, urgent matters can always be discussed through phone calls. This approach is the first and most important step in managing emails effectively.

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2. Hit that “delete” button

Although it might sound clichéd, hitting the delete button can be incredibly therapeutic, especially for those long-neglected emails lingering in your inbox. The sender has likely forgotten about them or has given up on receiving a response. 

It’s impractical, not to mention time-consuming, to reply to these messages. Let go of any guilt and the idea that you’ll respond to them someday.

Be brutally honest with yourself. Delete what you don’t need or won’t act on – be ruthless. Bid farewell to those things you won’t miss. While you’re cleaning up, don’t hesitate to mark unfamiliar or suspicious emails as spam.

For the emails you’re not quite ready to delete, archive them. Chances are you won’t need them again, but if you do, you’ll be relieved to find them.

 Just a heads up, if you’re using Gmail, deleted messages stay in the Trash for 30 days. After that, they are permanently deleted and cannot be recovered.

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3. Labels, Folders, Categories, and Tags to the rescue

Creating categories for your emails is a personal choice. It’s about what works best for you. For instance, someone in operations might need one meeting folder, while a salesperson might need several.

To organize your inbox:

  • Prioritize: Group, filter, and sort emails based on importance.
  • Create Folders: Use categories or tags for different topics or projects.
  • Be Specific: Name folders with search-friendly words.
  • Color Code: Assign colors for easy recognition.
  • Easy Steps in Gmail: Go to your inbox, click “manage labels” > “Create a new label” and name it.

By following these steps, you can keep your inbox clutter-free and find emails quickly when you need them.

4. Convert your group email accounts into shared inboxes

In group emails, you often find yourself inundated with messages, much like in WhatsApp groups. The constant stream of messages may not be relevant to everyone in the group, yet everyone is compelled to read them. 

Sometimes, only a couple of colleagues need to respond, but many others end up going through the entire conversation.

There’s a need for a solution to organize these emails effectively and manage your team’s workflow. Consider using an email collaboration tool as an alternative. With these tools, you can assign tasks directly to team members without the hassle of forwarding emails. 

Moreover, they facilitate internal communication, eliminating the need for excessive emails and making your team’s interactions more efficient.

5. Flag or create SLAs for emails that need ‘more’ attention

  • Prioritize Thoughtful Responses: Some emails require careful consideration. Avoid spontaneous replies to these emails.
  • Flag and Schedule: If you can’t respond immediately, flag important emails. Set aside specific downtime, like Fridays, to tackle flagged emails collectively.
  • Sorting Techniques: Arrange flagged emails to appear on top. Mark them as unread for better visibility, focusing on the most time-consuming ones first.
  • Clean Start on Monday: Handling pending emails before the weekend ensures a cleaner inbox on Monday, offering a fresh beginning for the week.
  • Implement SLAs: Utilize Service Level Agreements to automate email categorization. Set triggers to identify urgent emails, ensuring prompt attention to critical matters.

6. Unsubscribe or “mass unsubscribe”

Sometimes, you get loads of emails that you never wanted, all because you forgot to uncheck a box when signing up on websites.

Be careful about what you subscribe to. Only pick the emails you want. If you notice you keep deleting similar emails, it’s time to unsubscribe.

If you’re drowning in subscriptions, try Unroll.me. It shows all your subscriptions and lets you easily unsubscribe from unwanted ones, bringing clarity to your inbox. It’s free to use and owned by Rakuten Intelligence.

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Another option is Clean Email. It gathers all your subscriptions in one place, making it easy to unsubscribe. You can either opt-out or sort emails for later reading. They offer a free trial for cleaning up to 1,000 emails and respect your privacy, analyzing only email

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headers and metadata.

7. Set up default replies

If you’re typing the same message repeatedly, create email templates for common responses. Sort them into categories for different types of replies. This saves time compared to writing each email from scratch.

Many companies and individuals use this method, adding a personal touch to standard replies. It also applies to valuable newsletters for personal and professional growth.

In managing emails, prioritize the 20% that need immediate attention. Apply the two-minute rule: if it takes less than two minutes, respond right away. This ensures urgent emails are dealt with promptly, making your inbox management more efficient.

email management best practices
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8. Set up filters to send emails where they belong

You should try out this simple trick. These filters handle tasks you usually manage manually with incoming emails, such as organizing them into specific folders or deleting them (which can be quite satisfying).

Setting up Gmail filters is easy:

  1. Go to your inbox and click the down arrow on the right side of the “Search” box.
  2. Enter your search criteria, like email senders, receivers, subject, keywords, attachments, or chat details.
  3. Click “Create filter” with this search” at the bottom right, and then choose the action you want to perform with those emails. It’s a quick way to keep your inbox organized and save time.

9. Multiple inboxes to the rescue

In addition to your main inbox, you can create sub-inboxes within it based on different sections, email types, clients, or topics. 

This method is excellent for tidying up the hundreds of emails that pile up in your primary inbox in a chaotic manner over weeks, months, or even years.

Here’s how to do it in Gmail:

  1. Click on the top right corner of your primary Gmail inbox.
  2. Select “Settings” from the dropdown menu.
  3. Navigate to “Inbox” and find “multiple inboxes” in the dropdown menu.
  4. Configure the filters. For instance, if you want to sort emails by today, yesterday, and those older than 7 days, adjust the settings in the multiple inboxes section.

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Upon clicking “Save Changes,” your inbox will be organized as per your specifications.

This feature also allows you to limit the maximum number of emails visible in your inbox at one time. It’s a fantastic way to keep your inbox organized and achieve the coveted inbox zero status.

email management best practices
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10. Apply the 80/20 Rule

The principle of 80/20, also known as “The Pareto Principle” or “The Law of the Vital Few,” applies to various aspects of our lives, including managing emails. This principle suggests that 80% of outcomes result from 20% of causes.

To effectively handle emails, it’s crucial to concentrate on the 20% of inputs that yield 80% of the outcomes. 

In simpler terms, focus your attention on the 20% of emails that provide the highest value. These could include messages from important clients, emails related to recent breakthrough projects, speaking invitations, or workshop opportunities.

As for the remaining 80% of emails, allocate some time to respond or implement the strategies mentioned here to manage them better, or simply consider deleting them.

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Conclusion

To sum it up, managing your emails wisely is essential for a smoother digital life. By following these tips we’ve discussed, you can tidy up your inbox and save valuable time. It’s all about taking control and reducing stress. 

These practices help you make your inbox work for you, not against you. So, put these ideas into action and enjoy a more organized and stress-free email experience!

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