Reduce Inbox Clutter: 3 Tips

by ExecuTrain on June 20, 2012

Email is both a blessing and a curse. Email, if managed properly, can help boost productivity. Sometimes, however, the volume of emails can become quickly frustrating and can create a giant time vortex you feel you might never escape. Try these three strategies for quickly responding to common time-sucking emails:

  1. I’m not the right person for this
    Do you find yourself getting questions and requests from people who don’t realize you’re not the proper one for the job? If you truly aren’t the person who should be responding to the message, don’t try to be the hero and fix the problem for someone. Instead, direct the requestor to the appropriate person from the get-go. There’s nothing wrong with saying “Sorry I’m not directly involved in that. You should check with Fred and Rebecca on this instead,” and copy them on the message.
  2. Do you still need this?
    With the volume of emails some of us get on a daily basis, many times we skim or skip over emails and then forget to go back to them until a couple of weeks later. Before having a freak-out, follow up with the sender to see if action is still needed. Apologize for overlooking it or being tied up with another, more pressing issue. Many times, you’ll find that no one needs you to act on the email by this point. Verify this and then delete and move on.
  3. Here’s a link
    Do you often get a lot of the same questions via email? Perhaps you’re the subject matter expert on a particular topic and you find people often emailing you for help. While it’s great to be needed, responding to each of these similar requests separately can be a giant time suck. One solution is to write up documentation on these frequently asked questions and post it on a shared network drive or intranet. This way, instead of dropping what you’re doing to respond, send them the document link and ask them to follow up with any additional questions.

What are some ways that you manage your Inbox?

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