How to manage your email effectively.


I receive about 200 work emails a day and about 100 personal emails a day. How do I manage all these? In this post I am sharing the skills I learned when I went on a course a few years ago. I haven't worked out how much time it has saved but if I did then it would probably be months!

1. Handle your domain email with Gmail. Do you have your own domain and have your own email address like It is now possible to send and receive emails via your me@mydomain address through Gmail. You do this by:
  1. Create a Gmail account for your site
  2. Head to your current client and forward all your incoming email to the Gmail account
  3. In your Gmail account, go to Settings –> Accounts. Under ‘send mail as’, click ‘Add another email address’. Enter the details for your account
  4. Complete the verification process
  5. Make your address you default for ‘send mail as’
  6. And you’re done.
2. Create useful labels and folders to keep you organized. Not every email is as urgent as the next, though it can be difficult to keep track of those you need to answer quickly. Develop a labeling system that helps you get things done. If it takes less than 2 minutes to respond to an email just do it then and there, if it requires a bit more thought then put a time and a date against which you will respond by. I also think it’s important to archive as many emails as you can. If you’re using Gmail, you are unlikely to run out of space and its worth filing away. To make retrieving emails easier I’d suggest removing immediate action tags like ‘To Do’ and replacing them with tags for the purposes of archiving (when you’re done with the email). If it’s correspondence with community work, tag it ‘Community work’ and archive it.
3. Process emails in batches. A simple way to increase your productivity is to turn off auto notifiers. You dont have to check email constantly throughout the day, and doing so will regularly interrupt more important tasks. After receiving hundreds of thousands of emails I can safely say that I’ve never received one that couldn’t wait 12 hours or so, and if it was that urgent then I'd get a follow up call before I read the email. Process your inbox in batches. Make it once or twice a day, and try to get your inbox down to zero. This will allow you to plow through the rest of your productive tasks without constant interruption.

4. Read it, answer it. Many people have the habit of reading all the emails before actually replying to them. Sometimes they might even wait a couple of hours before getting back to these previously read emails. This method is ineffective for several reasons. First of all you might forget about some emails altogether. Once they are marked as “read” on your inbox, they will get mixed with all the others that you have already replied to. Second,  this process is also likely to take more time, since you will probably need to read each email a second time before remembering what you will need to say in the reply. Why not just with the email as you read it.

5. Keep it short. This benefits you and the person on the receiving end of your email, particularly if that person is busy like you:
    * Cut out unnecessary words and sentences.
    * Address the essential: not everything needs a response.
    * Use paragraphs liberally. It’s easier to read, and makes your email more approachable.

6. Keep it sweet. Always use the first name of the recipient! And end with your name. It can change the tone of your email, and only takes a second or two.

7. Re-read once. You can go back and edit typos in a blog post or article, but you only get one chance with emails. It’s important that your meaning and expression is clear, especially when making pitches or networking with other people. Just doing spell check is not enough. And if the email is that important, get someone else to read it before you hit send.

9. Create a dedicated signature. Make sure that your signature contains functional links. It might be a link to your blog, website, or online portfolio.  Your signature should effectively provide all the information someone might need to contact you.

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