For many people these days, email = work. If you’re not effective with your email, you might as well not even bother coming to work. So let’s take a closer look at this topic today, and try to make ourselves a bit more productive with our emails.

Below are the 10 effective ways to do it.

1. Touch every email just once 

It’s very common for us to naturally mark an important email with a star, and tell ourselves that we’ll come back to it later. Then, later comes and we repeat the process again, thinking, “I’ll deal with this tomorrow.”

This is a major waste of time. A simpler solution?
Try a variation of the “Touch It Once” principle
In a nutshell, process each email the first time you “touch” it. This means either responding to that email right away or creating a separate task for it somewhere else. That way, your inbox remains clear.

2. Use just one app/tool across all your devices

Many people fall into a trap of using multiple apps to manage their email. Now, the sole multitude of tools isn’t the problem. The real problems start when those tools aren’t synchronized with one another.

Simple solution: Use just one tool across your all devices. For instance, if you’re on Gmail, use the native Gmail tool everywhere. If you like Outlook, then use only that. Just don’t combine different email tools.

3. Deal with email just twice a day

Even though I might have said that “email is work” at the beginning of this post, it’s actually rarely the case.
A simple solution is to just deal with email twice a day: once in the morning, and once in the afternoon.
And most importantly, disable all email notifications. Notifications cause interruptions. Those interruptions are more costly than you would expect. For example, as explained in this resource by Harvard Business Review

“According to a University of California-Irvine study, regaining our initial momentum following an interruption can take, on average, upwards of 20 minutes”.

4. Utilise template responses
The key to many people’s productivity is their ability to not reinvent the wheel with their email responses, so to speak. The whole trick is identifying the exact moment when a template response could be employed, instead of re-writing the same email over and over again.
There are just two steps to mastering this skill:

  1. Identify common scenarios and types of email that you send out the most often.
  2. Create template responses for them.
5. Send short emails. Only.

If you’ve been in the military then you probably know what BLUF – “bottom line up front”

In short, it’s a communication principle that encourages us to start every message with the request at the beginning, rather than burying it or building up to it.

We tend to wrongly assume that our “ask” needs a sufficient built-up, or otherwise the person we’re contacting will say no. But as it turns out, people naturally omit the build-up part anyway and go straight to the “meat” of the message.

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