Email is an invaluable business communication tool, but how we use it will greatly impact our effectiveness in work and life.

No matter what line of business you are in, email is a tool you probably use on a daily, if not hourly, basis.

Email does have some challenges though, usually falling under three categories: we check it too often, we get too much, and we deal with it poorly.

There is a library worth of articles online that teach you how to deal with email, so I just want to share some ideas that I’ve found valuable for overcoming each of these three challenges.

  1. When to check email. There is no magic formula, but in general the advice can be summarized as check it less.
  • Don’t keep your email window open all day.
  • Turn off email alert notifications.
  • Check email only at certain times in the day.
  • Don’t check email first thing in the morning.
  • Don’t check email after a certain time at night.
  • Don’t check email on the weekend (or only at specific times).
  1. What email we receive. Though we can’t control all incoming email, there is a lot we can do to minimize the amount we get.
  • Unsubscribe from most/all newsletters, product updates etc.
  • Turn off email alerts from social apps, or have them filter to another folder.
  • Block or flag as spam email senders that continually send requests you don’t want.
  • Try limit internal company communication via email by using the correct tool (Slack for chat, Asana for tasks or just pick up the phone / stop by their desk).
  1. How to do email. This could sound arrogant, as not everyone deals with email the same way; but if dealt with poorly, email can take way more time than necessary.
  • Have a system. This could be tagging, or folders, or not doing anything, but having a purposeful system ensures you don’t spend time thinking about what do.
  • If a response takes less than a few minutes, do it right away.
  • If the email has an action or task involved, put it in your task management system with a due date, then the email can be filed (or ignored).
  • Don’t keep reading then ignoring emails you don’t want to deal with. Do something!
  • If possible, read and reply on the computer in batches, rather than piecemeal on the phone – its faster and more focused.

I find that my email behaviour changes over time, but requires purposeful thought to be effective. Your situation will be unique based on the type and size of business, but doing email well will free up time and mental energy to do the good work you are called to do.

~ Sean

Closed for now ... something new coming soon(ish).