How's your mailbox looking right now? Is it a hot mess? Or maybe you have some sort of filing system, but feel like it doesn’t quite tick all your boxes? Does your Monday (and any other week day for that matter) mainly consists in reading, replying to and falling behind on emails? Do you dread the post holiday email chaos? Friend, it doesn't have to be this way. You and I both know you're way too good at what you do to waste precious time on emails. Let me say it loud and clear: YOUR JOB IS NOT EMAILS!
In average, people spend up to 6 hours a day dealing (more or less successfully) with emails. Let this sink in a little bit. Six. Freakin’. Hours. You realise how crazy that is, right? This is the reason most people feel frazzled at work, like they are always behind. Like they have 2 jobs. ‘Cause the truth is, if you’re spending 6 hours a day on emails, you may as well have another job.
By nipping bad habits in the bud and starting new ones, you’ll free up so much time you’ll feel like your days are a few hours longer. So here are some of the oh so common inbox mistakes I'd like you to stop doing right now, and how to fix them:
Inbox Mistake #1:
You Are Using Your Mailbox as a To Do List
Hey, I don’t judge, I have been guilty of that for years! But I’ve learnt the hard way that it just doesn’t work. Before you know it, new emails get on top of your to do list, and you start dropping balls and forgetting super important stuff. The bottom line? If it’s still in your inbox, it might as well never have been delivered.
The key to stop this widespread epidemic, is to turn each email into an actionable to do list item. For this, I use Todoist, a no fuss, easy to use, beautifully designed platform, that allows you to see all your tasks for the day and week at a glance, organise them into colour coded projects, and Tick. Them. Off. Boom. Once your tasks are scheduled in Todoist, you can completely forget about them and be reminded at just the right time.
So you get the idea. Every email becomes a number of actionable tasks in Todoist. Whose actual job it is to deal with your to do lists.
Inbox Mistake #2:
You Don't Have Filing System Inside Your Mailbox
Or you have one that is not adapted to your needs.Your digital life deserves just as much TLC as your home.
I share my own filing system in day two of my free email course: Rock Your Inbox: 5 Days to Managing Your Emails Like a Boss.
You are wasting so much valuable time by not being able to find an email quickly and easily. So sign up now! It's totally awesome and totally free :)
Inbox Mistake #3:
You Check Your Emails Constantly
I tend to be easily dis-trac.. what was I saying again?
That’s why I choose times at which I check my emails. I know most people start with emails first thing in the morning, but it’s been proven to be productivity's ugly little sister. While you think you are working, you end up getting stuck in there for much longer than needed and achieve so little you might have well snoozed for an extra hour instead. Rather start with your most important task for the day, or what you really don't feel like doing before you even open your mailbox, and get it out of the way. Then set some time to check your emails and repeat.
Inbox Mistake #4:
Your Email Notifications Are On
Notifications are the royal path to distraction. And distraction? Not so good for productivity. Or listening to your spouse for that matter. So turn it off. Be focused on one task. It will get done in a lot less time, and much better.
Inbox Mistake #5:
You Are Sending Emails When You Should Pick Up the Phone
Do all the emails you send and receive need to be that, an email? Sometimes, it is much more efficient to walk over to your colleague's desk, or pick up the phone, rather than enter an email tennis match leading to misunderstanding, frustration and a gigantic waste of time.
Here are some alternatives for you to consider:
- Create WhatsApp groups for specific teams or projects
- Always be mindful of who really needs to be on the recipient list
- Try to discuss the details in person or over the phone beforehand to avoid unnecessary back and forth, and only then send a recap by email so it's on the record
Stop bad habits, start new ones!
Are you willing to take your inbox management powers to the next level and become an email rockstar? Then head this way to sign up for my free 5 day email course: Rock Your Inbox.
Every day starting Monday, I’ll check in with you to give you some short, immediately actionable action steps that will help you design the inbox of your dreams. Once and for all. I'll give you all my tips and tricks, and the system I developed and use daily to keep my emails tamed and be a productivity badass.