June 11, 2022
There are some companies that publicly fantasize about a future where they do not use email.
We are not one of them.
The truth is, that even as technology evolves, social media platforms come and go, and new forms of communication become available, email is still widely effective. We find that it is especially effective in a professional work environment. While other tools for workplace communication have huge merits, email continues to be a mainstay for our business and many of the clients we serve.
As important as email is for our business efficiency, there are many valuable disciplines that can be used to ensure it adds to your day, rather than distracting from it. We’ve gone so far as to recommend that employees consider not starting their day with email, simply because it can fuel distraction.
We stress staying productive, rather than “staying busy”. Email replies can give the illusion of urgency, so that a day is spent tackling active emails, rather than working on goals.
So, what disciplines can you use to make sure that your inbox is working for you, rather than against you? We have some tips that might just do the trick to keep your day moving productively.
Take meaningful communication breaks
As the digital workplace grows in popularity and necessity, ask yourself if you are using an active inbox as a replacement for meaningful communication, even with coworkers. Taking a short break to chat with a coworker, call a friend, or brainstorm solutions to a workplace challenge can feed the human need for communication that you will not find in replying to emails. You might find that filling those needs for socialization in a meaningful way, leaves you less tied to your email, leaving room to crush long-term goals.
Silence email when it isn’t necessary to workflow
It’s important to be available to coworkers and managers while on the clock, we know that. We also know that the “ding” of incoming messages can also be detrimental to focus. If you find email distracting to certain tasks, consider silencing it at designated times during the day. An hour of uninterrupted work might be more beneficial than being unrestrictedly available for communication throughout the entire workday.
Delete or move old messages
You might have heard the elusive concept of inbox zero. While this might be a goal for some, we don’t find it absolutely necessary to email organization. Still, we find that leaving unactionable messages in your inbox can lead to lost requests and unread communications. If a task or a thread is completed, consider using a separate folder to store the communication without needing to focus attention on it every time you open your email. Delete messages that are not relevant to you. In short, keep your inbox a place of communication, rather than an overwhelming flood of messages.
Keep your inbox clean and “clutter-free”
Those promo messages you don’t need? Delete them.
That influencer you no longer follow? Unsubscribe.
Those newsletters that you find insightful, but plan to read later? Schedule an actual time to read them, and move them to a folder out of your inbox. Your email is a work tool and should be contributing to overall efficiency, not taking away from it. Save yourself the stress of visual clutter and manage it before it starts competing for your attention, taking the focus off the messages that are valuable to you or time-sensitive.
Much like checking social media apps without thinking, it can be easy to check and respond to emails whether it is during regular work hours or not. In most cases, this isn’t expected. Having nonurgent workplace communication follow you after hours does not leave room for healthy decompression and work-life balance. Step away from your email for mental rest, and know that you’ll be ready to tackle your goals when you return.