Emails are the most important means of communicating with colleagues at work. No wonder you find 20, 30 or even 50 new messages in your inbox every morning. And after a two-week holiday, there can be several hundred emails waiting to be answered. Too many emails not only mean more work for you, they can also cause tension and health problems like high blood pressure. We’ve collected a few tips to help you effectively manage your emails with as little stress as possible.
Be honest – how often do you check your emails every day? And do you ever feel tempted to check your inbox after work or at the weekend? Being reachable around the clock is a stress factor for more and more people. Incoming emails can distract you from what you’re actually supposed to be doing.
Tip: Set fixed times to check your emails. Depending on your job, it can be a good idea to check them at varying intervals. And of course, exceptions prove the rule, for example, if you’re waiting to receive information on an urgent Project.
Emails have accelerated the pace of our work routine enormously. People normally expect an answer within a few hours, and sometimes even after several minutes.
Tip: Don’t get stressed out, but don’t wait too long either to answer incoming emails. Try to prioritise each message and determine how long the recipient should wait for a response. Often it can help to send a short reply, e.g. “Thank you very much for your message. I’ll get back to you tomorrow morning at the latest.”
Sometimes less is more. You probably wouldn’t even notice unsubscribing from one or the other mailing list. The fewer messages you receive about your friends’ activities on social networks, the smaller the risk of getting distracted.
Tip: Take an hour and decide which newsletter subscriptions, automatic notifications or RSS feeds you can delete without sacrificing the information you really Need.
Finding 236 emails in your inbox is enough to overwhelm anyone. “How am I supposed to read and answer so many messages?” The deluge of emails often appears much worse than it really is. If your messages are well sorted, you can maintain a better overview – just like a well-organised desk.
Tip: Once you’ve rid yourself of those unimportant messages (see Tip 3), save your emails into folders categorised by subject (project A, project B) or by priority (to-do today, to-do tomorrow etc.). Many email programmes allow you to manage emails using default options. In this way you can automatically sort and save messages according to who sent them to you or if certain words pop up in the subject line.
It is an annoying, but widespread habit – adding numerous people to the list of email recipients in the CC line. If you think that doing this improves your reputation in your team, you are quite mistaken. On the contrary, many people feel annoyed when they receive emails that have nothing directly to do with them.
Tip: Think carefully before adding other people’s addresses to the CC line in your email programme. Do these people really need the information in the email? And if you’re the recipient of CC emails, move them into a folder of non-priority Messages.
Those who know exactly what is expected of them can work more calmly and effectively. This not only applies to the content of your work, but also the form of communication.
Tip: Come to an agreement with your manager and team regarding whether and how you should react to business emails in the evening or at the weekend. Who should be put in CC and when? Does your boss expect a response from colleagues who only received a copy of an email?
Emails are not always the most suitable means of communication. In the past, there were many occasions when people would write emails, but nowadays there are even more efficient . And what many people forget: speaking in person is a method that has withstood the test of time and is often the best form of communication.
Tip: Try using the phone more often or visit your colleagues in their offices. Sometimes having a conversion in person can solve problems faster than explaining things in writing. And if you keep it brief, it doesn’t necessarily take longer.
Do you have any other tips? How do you deal with all those emails you get every day? Share your expertise and tips with us in the comments!