12 Effective Ways to Tame Your Email Inbox

10.11.13 Inbox


Story provided by All Business – 

Your inbox can feel like an endless abyss. How are you supposed to get actual work done (and even approach inbox zero) when “urgent” emails keep trickling in, 24 hours a day?

To find out, we asked 12 successful entrepreneurs from the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC).

Q. How do you split your time between answering emails and getting other work done?

Their best answers are below:

1. Email for 10 Minutes Every Hour

Alexandra Levit 2For every 50 minutes I spend working on a document or attending a meeting, I spend 10 minutes answering emails. I never shut off email, as you never know when something urgent will come in that requires an immediate response or when new information will arrive that will impact the day’s work. I also save critical emails in drafts, then re-read and send them at the end of the day for perspective.
– Alexandra LevitInspiration at Work

2. Turn off Notifications

Liam MartinSet three time slots for email (morning, noon and night), and that’s it. Constant vibrations or pings distract you from the project at hand and can set you back hours. Focusing your full attention on one task at a time leads to better work and better emails. If a matter is urgent, you should get a call. For nonurgent matters, three or four hours for a response is fine.
– Liam

3. Triage on Your Commute

Neil ThanedarI’m on Mailbox for most of my 30-minute public transit commute as I delete and archive unimportant messages, answer quick questions and schedule emails for the future. By the time I reach the office, my inbox is concentrated down to the few emails worth answering immediately. This allows me to get to the meat of my workday without tiring myself out in my inbox.
– Neil ThanedarLabDoor

4. Be 100 Percent Present

Kelly AzevedoWhen I’m answering email, I can work through 60 plus emails with quality responses in an hour. Alternatively, when I’m with clients or doing other work, I ignore my inbox. The way I view it, if I stopped and answered my phone all day, I’d never get anything done. So I don’t stop and answer emails the second they come in. Few things are truly urgent.
– Kelly AzevedoShe’s Got Systems

5. Check E-mail at Set Times

Doug BendChecking your email throughout the day can be a distraction that lowers your productivity. Instead, try checking email only at set times. You will be amazed at the increase in your productivity when your work flow is not constantly being interrupted by new emails.
– Doug BendBend Law Group, PC

6. Use the Two-Folder Process

Michael SeimanI move emails into two folders: one for things I need to answer immediately, and one for things that I just need to review but don’t need my immediate attention. I don’t answer anything that isn’t in those folders. I see emails coming in all day and move them to those folders, then I set specific times during the day to attack only those folders.
– Michael SeimanCPXi

7. Limit Engagement in the Office

Danny BoiceI very deliberately make it a point not to get lost down the email rabbit hole. I try to get to inbox zero in the a.m. I don’t keep it open all day. For a while I didn’t even set up email on my iPhone to keep myself honest. I try to limit email engagement when I’m in the office because that time is best used for collaboration in person. Nothing beats an old-fashioned hallway conversation.
– Danny BoiceSpeek

8. Plan Power Hours

Shradha AgarwalWe have a customer-facing sales culture, and our benchmark is no more than 24 hours to respond to any request, internal or external. I spend two hours each night responding to quick emails from the day and the next morning on more strategic answers. I focus time during the day on live conversations and connecting with team members, formally or informally, and with clients.
– Shradha AgarwalContextMedia

9. Compartmentalize Your Time

Andy KaruzaYou’re more efficient when you focus on one task at a time, so switching from email back to a financial planning sheet back to email isn’t very effective and will waste a lot of time. Unless you’re expecting a time-sensitive email, I will spend the top of every hour responding to the most relevant emails, then get back to another task. I’ll answer all other time-insensitive emails after hours.
– Andy KaruzaBrandbuddee

10. Take an Hour Each Night to Answer

Tom-CannonI review emails throughout the day and only answer the urgent ones. I typically wait to answer the rest of the emails until I get home in the evening. I have found that this makes me more efficient throughout the workday.
– Tom CannonBungoBox

11. Schedule Email Breaks

michael mogillSchedule two to three times a day to go through your emails. In the interim, use a service such as Inbox Pause to prevent emails from piling up until you’re ready to process them. Don’t become a slave to your Inbox.
– Michael MogillCrisp Video Group

12. Allocate Blocks of Time Just for Email

Liz PearceProductivity hacker Tim Ferriss advocates this approach he calls “batch processing,” and I think it’s a smart way to stay on task. The principle is pretty straightforward: turn off your email for the majority of your day, and allocate a few blocks of time just for answering email. This obviously won’t work for everyone, but it’s also not as impossible as it might seem.
– Liz PearceLiquidPlanner

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