It’s the same old story. You wake up on Monday morning, still recovering from a wild weekend. You head out to the office, not quite refreshed but still full of great ideas and plans for the week ahead. You turn on your computer—and there it is. The blah blah blah of a thousand emails, the dreaded red inbox icon, the sorry promise of a wasted morning navigating a load of useless crap. Email…..right?
It’s a sad fact that, while email is a brilliant communications tool, there’s just too much bullshit getting in the way. We ”waste” over 2.5 hours of any working day dealing with email alone, and with a mind-boggling 246.5 billion global emails sent every day, it’s clear that email is managing us, rather than the other way around.
However, all is not lost. The dream of an email that works for you is real. You can take back control of your inbox and enjoy better email organization both at work and in your personal life. We’re not saying that its easy, but it’s a hell of a lot better than ruining the start of your week dredging through newsletters, notifications, and non-essential replies before you even think about starting your real work.
So, if you’re drowning in email, suffocating in spam, and just exhausted scrolling endless threads, take a look at these five steps designed to help you manage email more effectively. You’ll thank us for it on Monday morning.
Establish a Routine
Purse. Phone. Keys. Who doesn’t whisper some variation of these words when leaving the house? It’s a mantra for the modern age. A routine that keeps us on the straight and narrow. When it comes to managing email, however, we all tend to be a little less controlled and a lot more compulsive.
Most of us have routines in almost every other aspect of our lives, and yet, when it comes to email, we just can’t help but scratch the itch. Like Pavlov’s dog, we hear that email notification and we want the treat—no matter what the cost.
Rather than checking for mails every five minutes and replying haphazardly throughout the day, our first email management tip is, basically, to ignore that irritating ping. Set aside a specific time to deal with your email, whether it’s first thing in the morning, just after lunch, or whenever suits you best. Reserve yourself an hour at a specific time of day to manage your email—and stick to it.
If you’re one of those frustratingly bright morning types, then jump straight into your mail at 9 am and stop again at 10 am. If your brain doesn’t start working until you’ve had five coffees and a hearty lunch, then open up your client at 1 pm and stop again at 2 pm. Whatever time suits your specific body clock, you’ll find that limiting your attention encourages better email management and lets you concentrate on your actual work.
Choose Your Words Wisely
How often do you just hit ‘reply’ and type up a storm, rather than taking a second to gather your thoughts and plan out what you want to say? In fact, this is no longer just an email management tip, but a useful tool whenever you communicate with others. Take a breath, choose your words wisely.
If you are the serial typo, nonsensical sentence, long and winding writer of epic emails, then at best you’re likely including unnecessary information, at worst, you’re leaving out critical parts that allow the recipient to answer effectively.
Better email management begins at the source and keeping your mails concise yet comprehensive means you can write an email in half the usual time. It also has the knock-on effect of ensuring any replies are direct and to the point, helping you manage longer threads more easily, getting the information you need the first time.
Ditch Newsletters and Notifications
Delete. Delete. Delete. It’s amazing that indispensable top-right key doesn’t jam up way before the rest of your keyboard. Sometimes, it can feel like email management is just about getting rid of the stuff you don’t want. However, there is a better way.
Start by unsubscribing from all those useless newsletters, bulletins, and daily updates you’ve collected throughout the years. You know the ones, Stamp Collecting Weekly, The Stiletto Gazette, Fox News. Next, turn off those useless notifications from Twitter, Facebook, Google, and the rest—even those from your favorite dating platform. In fact, especially those.
Once you’ve done all this, you’ll find that your email begins to clean up itself. You’ll receive less crap and have less to sort through each time you open up your email client. If you find you’re missing your Office Supplies Monthly fix, then try Spike’s Priority and Other inboxes. This way, all your notifications and newsletters will automatically be directed into a separate account for you to check later.
Practice Zen Mail
Although this one may take a little time to sink in, the art of sending fewer emails can be surprisingly effective. Especially when it comes to team email management, sending fewer emails means fewer responses to deal with and less additional input from other members of the team.
We know the urge to reply is strong. We know that all your contacts are desperate to hear from you every minute of the day. But, if you can intelligently sort which emails need a reply and which don’t, you’ll save yourself a bucket load of time and brainpower.
Imagine that each email you send costs you $1, then ask yourself, is this message worth $1? You’ll probably find that you’d be broke at the end of the day using your current habits. Get a little Zen with your email and let the urge to reply wash over you like a babbling brook.
Don’t be Scared of Smart(phones)
At any given moment, there’s probably a million different articles preaching the horror of smartphones and their part in the erosion of the traditional work/life balance. Just Google it, we dare you. However, while we’d never condone keeping that little bundle of silicon and lithium-ions under your pillow at night, they are an absolute marvel when used conscientiously.
Got nothing better to do on the train? Whip out your phone and craft a few short and sweet replies. You can even write drafts ready to send automatically as soon as you reach the office if you can’t find a decent internet connection. Want to catch up on what’s happening in the wonderful world of home pickling and preserving? Check your newsletters for the latest vinegar-soaked recipes. Stuck in another boring and useless meeting? Ahem…well, be careful.
The point is, as long as you can manage your screen time responsibly, then using your phone to cut down on the email you deal with at your desk is ideal. And pretty much what it was designed for, to be honest.
Better Email Management with Spike
Ok. We know we said there were only five steps, but here at Spike, we like to bend the rules a little—and with good reason. Let’s face it, the explosion of digital communications mediums in the last decade has left many of us utterly overwhelmed. Email clients, instant messengers, cloud storage, productivity tools, and all the rest. It’s simply too much to take in at times.
Our five email tips are all well and good, but we think there’s a better way. At Spike, our goal is to let our simple yet super powerful email management app do the talking. We believe that conversational email is the future, but more than that, we think you should be able to manage your life from a single app. Your email. Something you’re already using and not yet another app.
Spike lets you chat naturally with the people who matter most to you, sorts your inbox seamlessly and organizes your email effectively. It’s like email and instant messenger had a baby. A baby that was much more beautiful than its parents. A baby that grew up and went to an ivy league.
You can use it on any device, you can send your newsletters to our “Other” inbox using Priority Inbox, and you can plan your days from Calendar. Stealth Encryption keeps all your data safe, with File Manager and Advanced Search features designed to keep your documents organized. The best part, however, is Spike is designed with people in mind–letting you chat seamlessly with the people who matter to you with Conversational Email.
You don’t need to use a million other productivity tools. You have everything you need in a single place, and it ALL works with your regular email. Spike clears the clutter and makes it easier to communicate—just like in real life.