Email has become an integral part of our professional lives, but managing a flooded inbox can be a significant drain on productivity. To reclaim your time and stay on top of your emails, here are some effective email management hacks that can boost your productivity:

1. Set Specific Email Times

Rather than constantly checking your inbox throughout the day, allocate specific times to focus solely on emails. This is what I do, so that I can concentrate on my clients’ work. This approach prevents interruptions and allows you to concentrate on other important tasks. Schedule two or three dedicated email blocks, such as in the morning, after lunch, and before the end of the workday, to respond to emails promptly and efficiently.

2. Implement a Folder and Label System

Creating folders and labels is crucial for organising your emails. Develop a system that works for you, such as categorising emails by project, priority, or sender. This way, you can quickly locate and retrieve important messages when needed.

3. Utilise Email Filters and Rules

Email filters and rules can automate sorting incoming emails into specific folders or applying labels based on criteria you set. For instance, you can filter emails from specific senders or with certain keywords to be automatically labelled and archived. This automation saves you time and ensures that important messages are prioritised and easily accessible.

4. Unsubscribe and Manage Subscription Emails

Subscription emails can quickly clutter your inbox. Take the time to unsubscribe from newsletters or promotional emails that you no longer find valuable. If you’re like me you may sign up to something because it sounded like it might be useful and then quickly realise that you are inundated (often daily) with emails. Additionally, consider creating a separate email address for subscriptions (I do this), so they don't interfere with your primary inbox. By minimising the influx of subscription emails, you can focus on more critical messages and reduce distractions.

5. Use Email Template Responses

If you find yourself frequently responding to similar types of emails, create email templates responses for common inquiries or requests. Templates allow you to save time by starting with a pre-written message that you can customise as needed. This feature is particularly useful for repetitive tasks like confirming appointments, providing standard information, or answering frequently asked questions. Better still, have a link to your FAQs in your signature.

6. Practice Email Triage

Adopting an email triage system keeps your inbox organised and ensures quick responses to important messages. When going through your emails, apply the "5 D's" approach: Do, Delete, Delegate, Drag and Delay. Do – is for urgent or easy emails that require YOU to action; Delete - is for those emails you know you WON’T ever read; Delegate - this is for those emails that could or should go to someone else to action; Drag - this is for some of the emails that you just need to file; and Delay - is for all other emails. See our "5 Steps" document for more detail HERE.

7. Set Up Email Notifications Wisely

Email notifications can be distracting and disrupt your workflow. Instead of having constant interruptions, adjust your email settings to receive notifications only for high-priority senders or specific types of emails that require immediate attention. My notifications are turned off completely so that I don’t get distracted when doing my clients work. This way, you can stay focused on your work without being constantly pulled away by incoming email alerts.

8. Avoid Multitasking with Email

While it may be tempting to keep your email open throughout the day, multitasking between email and other tasks can diminish your productivity. Instead, allocate specific blocks of time to focus solely on email management. By giving your full attention to one task at a time, you can respond more efficiently and avoid the cognitive overload that comes with constant task-switching.

9. Optimise Email Searches

When you need to find specific emails or information within your inbox, use search features effectively. Utilise keywords, sender names, or date ranges to narrow down your search results. Furthermore, familiarise yourself with advanced search operators (e.g., "from:", "subject:", "has:attachment") to refine your searches and quickly locate the desired information.

10. Regularly Declutter and Archive

To maintain an organised inbox, regularly declutter your email by archiving or deleting unnecessary messages. Archive emails that you may need for reference but don't require immediate attention. By keeping your inbox clutter-free, you can reduce visual distractions and find important emails more efficiently.

Implementing these email management hacks should significantly boost your productivity by streamlining your inbox and allowing you to focus on important tasks. Remember, effective email management is about finding a system that works best for you and developing habits to keep your inbox under control.