The amount of email a normal office worker receives has become incredible. In the beginning, email was the most innovative communication feature ever designed. People marveled at all the features and how efficient it was. Back in the heyday, email was the best thing to ever happen to a business.
But as time wore on, your inbox suddenly grew seven heads, started breathing fire and spitting daggers. Your unread number kept creeping up, and now it’s sitting at a number you have to really focus on to pronounce. What happened? Can’t you just start over? Nope.
You still need email, even despite the frightening seven-headed dragon it turned into. So it’s in your best interest to learn the art of dagger-dodging before you’re unexpectedly stabbed in the back by that innocent-looking inbox.
Here are a few useful ideas to keep the fiery trenches of your inbox manageable.
When you’re opening email after email after email and everyone wants some new file, document or image from you, the time spent sifting through attachments can really start to add up. For example:
Step 1: Search through all 2,453,793 of your files.
Step 2: Make sure you attached the right file and not that picture of Nicholas Cage.
Step 3: Double-check to confirm you actually added the document.
You can see where this process can really start to dig into your work day, especially if you’re getting multiple requests.
To avoid this, a great alternative is to use a service like Dropbox or Google Drive, where you can easily share documents or entire folders with clients, team members and vendors. You can share what you like, whenever you deem necessary, and with whomever you choose. You can even edit documents in real-time and cut out all that back-and-forth mumbo-jumbo nonsense.
There’s about a thousand and one different reasons you don’t want to be included in a group text message. They get really annoying, really fast. Having your phone constantly dinging is a nightmare. And the same is true for emails. If you’re going to send out a group email, make sure the people you send it to actually need it—limit potential responses as much as you can.
Reply only sometimes.
Sounds completely counterintuitive, but hear us out. Reverse the previous situation and follow the same basic guidelines. If you’re going to respond to someone, only do so if you’re going to “say” something worth their time. Usually an “Okay” or a “Thanks, I got it” is not worth their time.
A good way to think about it is to imagine receiving what you’re sending. Would you find it useful or informative? Or annoying and distracting? If your answer was yes to the second set, do not reply and be THAT person. You know what we mean.
Subject lines serve a reasonable purpose, whether you like to take the time to add them or not. The trick is not to overthink the subject but to ensure its description is clear and concise. Be to the point and never, ever leave it blank. A (No Subject) email is the worst and easily ignored. Again, a great way to think about it is to imagine being on the other end of the email.
Hopefully some of these ideas will help improve your relationship with your inbox. Email is here to stay. That is, until someone invents a communication platform that incorporates telepathy… unfortunately, that’s not going to happen anytime soon.