The average professional spends more than a quarter of their workday dealing with email. While it is a vital part of business communication, spending 10+ hours a week in your inbox is a waste of time, energy, and resources.
What’s more, being overloaded with emails also hinders your ability to communicate effectively – if your inbox is overflowing, it’s impossible to know which messages are important (and which can go in the trash), so you’ll end up missing vital communications.
Inefficient email organization leads to low productivity, missed opportunities, misallocation of resources, and, let’s face it, low morale – nobody wants to waste time in their inbox.
On the other hand, when email is managed well, it is the powerhouse of your productivity suite – the heart of any good work OS. The problem is that thousands of people and companies still haven’t got good work OS – they are stuck using legacy email solutions that lack the dynamic features necessary for a modern era of mobility and remote work.
In this guide, we’re going to take a look at ways that you can improve your email organization even if you’re stuck in a legacy system as well as how a modern email client can take your communication to the next level. You’ll be learning:
How frequently you should check your work email
How to make the most of email on the move with your smartphone
Tips and tricks for better inbox organization in Gmail, Outlook, and more
How to streamline your messages to cut to what’s important
How to find the best email app for your work email
How to Find the Best Email App for Your Work Email
Is your email inbox open now? Probably. We all do it – leave our emails up all day (or check every two minutes) and respond to messages as soon as they come in. A fast turnaround means high productivity, right? Wrong! It means we’re not thinking about which messages are really important and how they should be dealt with, but rather just running to reply on autopilot.
This is an ineffective way to deal with emails and also distracts you from any other tasks you’re working on. Breaking the cycle is as easy as setting aside dedicated time to deal with messages and doing so in a purposeful way.
TIP 1: Check Your Email at Dedicated Times
The times when you check your email will depend on your specific work, but think about whether you could reduce opening your inbox to just three times a day – the morning, afternoon, and before you sign off. Or even just twice? Would you ever dare to only check your emails in the morning…? Maybe one day.
TIP 2: Be Purposeful When You Check Your Email and Prioritize Appropriately
When you do check your messages, don’t just start firing off replies. Take the time to separate them into those that need an immediate response/action; those that can be delegated; and those that don’t need your input at all. This way, you can focus on what’s important and leave all the distractions behind you.
Remember: emails are a form of asynchronous communication – they don’t require both participants to be actively engaged. It means you don’t have to be replying to messages all day for it to be an effective communication tool.
“But what if a message is really urgent?”
If a message is so urgent that it can’t wait for a response, it shouldn’t be an email. This is the time for synchronous communication – types of interaction requiring both parties’ active engagements simultaneously. Synchronous communication isn’t just for when something is urgent, it’s also perfect for when a topic needs to be discussed in depth; if there will be ideas bouncing back and forth; and plenty of other times.
TIP 3: Use the Right Tool for The Job: Email Isn’t Always Best
The point is, there is a time and a place when synchronous communication is better and, more importantly, there are dedicated tools for it. From video meetings to audio calls to IM chats, there are tools you should be using for immediate communication, not email.
Part of effective email organization is knowing when not to use it at all.
Unfortunately, most legacy email systems don’t offer these features, meaning you’re left with a muddle of one-hit apps to get the job done. On the other hand, modern email solutions such as Spike offer all these communication features in a single, simple package so you can decide when to sync with colleagues and when an email is best for the job.
Should You Check Your Email on Your Smartphone?
If it’s easy to be distracted by emails on a computer, it’s almost inevitable when you have them on your phone. There is no point closing your email tab or client if you’re still getting the notifications on your phone every time an email rolls in – you will lose focus.
There are a couple of solutions to this problem: first, you can remove emails from your phone entirely, or second, only get notifications for the emails you want. The latter is a more realistic solution for most of us.
TIP 4: Don’t Have All Email Notifications Pop Up on Your Phone
There are several ways to only have notifications for important emails, which generally depends on your email client. For example, in Gmail’s Android phone app, you go into the settings, tap Notifications, and select “High priority only.” However, it’s not that simple with all email clients – and that’s if they offer it at all.
A better solution is to use an email client that offers prioritization as a key feature for any account you add to it, such as Spike’s Priority Inbox. This separates out emails that are important to you and sends everything else to the “Other” pile. This way, you’re only ever getting notified of the emails you want.
Handy Tips for Organizing Your Emails
Good email organization requires a robust system for sorting messages inside your inbox. Different email clients offer different solutions, with most legacy systems falling some way short of what you actually need.
TIP 5: Archive What You Need, Delete What You Don’t
The first thing to remember when organizing your emails is: only keep what you need! Delete, delete, delete. An inbox cluttered with newsletters or receipts is inherently distracting, so get rid of everything you can.
Of course, some messages are essential to keep, but these still shouldn’t be hanging about your primary inbox. They should be filed away in long-term email storage by archiving messages.
TIP 6: Organize Your Inbox with Labels, Folder, Or Step It Up with Super Search
Beyond deleting and archiving, there are several other ways to organize your emails depending on your email client. Outlook, for example, allows users to file emails into different folders, which can also contain calendars, contacts, and tasks.
Gmail, on the other hand, offers labels. These can be applied to messages to create categories, with the ability to retrieve all messages with the same label by clicking it in the side panel or, alternatively, searching for that label. If you think that labels sound a lot like folders, then you’re right; they work in pretty similar ways, except you can apply multiple labels to the same email, making it a more dynamic organization system.
The problem with both of these email organizers, and most others out there, is that they require time and energy to use. If you’re looking for a more hands-off approach, then you need to use a system that allows you to search in email inboxes without first applying labels or folders.
This is exactly what Spike Super Search provides: a single search box that finds anything in your inbox, including all attachments. Searches can be filtered further by subject, contact, file, and an in-built tag system.
Streamline Your Inbox
On average, a person will have about 1.8 email accounts. That means while some people only have one, many people have several – spanning both personal and professional needs. For good email organization, it’s important to have all these inboxes in the same place. Major email clients like Gmail offer this function, allowing you to add other email inboxes to your primary Gmail account and send and receive messages from those addresses.
This is an incredibly important step in email organization. However, once you start unifying your email inboxes, you need to be even more diligent with what’s important. This is when you’ll need to find a way to streamline your email inbox.
TIP 7: Streamline Your Incoming Messages, so You Only Deal with the Important Ones
Spike offers a unified inbox, bringing all your personal and business accounts into a single, easy-to-operate client. More importantly, however, Spike offers the Priority Inbox. This streamlines all your messages regardless of which account they’ve come from, meaning you only read what’s important while everything else goes in the “Other” pile, which you can read at your leisure.
Choosing The Best Email App for Your Work Email
These days, most people will work across multiple platforms – for example, this could be a laptop at home, a smartphone on the go, and a desktop at the office. Thus, modern workers require an email app that can do the same! This is why the best Android organizer apps and iOS tools offer a web-based service in addition to the native application.
TIP 8: Drop the Legacy System and Get an Email Client that Works for You
Spike does just this, with each team member able to access the same powerful productivity features on the platform they prefer – whether Apple Macs, iPhones, Androids, or any computer with a web connection. And it isn’t just emails, since Spike also offers a unified calendar, read receipts, and collaboration tools such as Video Meetings, Online Notes, and Voice Messages.
What’s more, a unified inbox doesn’t mean a one-size-fits-all approach. Spike’s innovative Conversational Email cuts the clutter by showing your emails in an IM-style, but reattains the ability to have signatures, headers, and more sent on your professional email accounts – you just don’t have to look at it every time!
Summary on Email Organization
If you’re looking for the best email organization, take a look at Spike. It offers a unified platform for your emails – both personal and professional – as well as calendars, contacts, and more. Its unique Conversational Email and Priority Inbox will keep your emails clutter-free and hyper-relevant, while the powerful Super Search removes the need to waste time, energy, and resources on manually labeling or filling your messages.
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