Email has changed the way we live and work. There isn’t a business in existence that doesn’t use email in some way to communicate with staff, customers, and suppliers.
Not only is email integral to a modern work environment, but almost all services in our personal lives use email in some way: You can’t have a Facebook or Twitter account without having an email address. You can’t sign up for new apps without one. Even password resets or authorization links are sent to email addresses in order to verify that you are who you say you are.
So if you’re sitting under a deluge of email, it’s no wonder!
Many of us end up snowed under by daily emails, but there is no reason for this to be the case. There are some simple, but very effective ways you can manage your inbox. Here are some tips to help you use email more productively, in your work and personal life:
Using your email to manage tasks is a one-way street to losing your mind because you don’t know what you’re doing and when you should be doing it.
Task managers like Asana or Wunderlist allow you to create to-do lists and connect them with your email. You can create a task, manage and edit it, tick off sub-tasks as you go, include followers or managers, and sync it with your calendar to ensure the deadline is met.
Set task reminders for yourself and include attachments, links and any info required to manage the task at hand. This also helps keep your inbox cleaner. For example, a collaborative family shopping list is a great way to make sure you have the weekly grocery list covered (and everybody is happy), and you can tick off items as you go. The less clutter in your inbox, the less clutter in your mind.
Sharing your calendar with work colleagues, friends and family, can help avoid double booking and keep others aware of how your day or week is looking. It also helps you to stay sane, and stops you from worrying about telling others where you’ll be, and when.
With Atmail, for example, users can create a calendar event and use the "attendees" function to invite others, who can collaborate and add event details too. Calendars are even synchronized across your smartphone, tablet, or any mobile device, so everyone can update the event on the go.
If you’re not working through your email every hour, it can quickly jump to over 100 emails by the end of the day, according to new research from The Radicati Group. To manage this, you can transfer tasks to your calendar, and set reminders so you can let yourself focus on the work at hand and prioritize your time effectively.
You can schedule an email to go out at any time you like, and even request for it to come back in your inbox if no one replies. This tool is fantastic when dealing with people in different time zones. It also lets you focus on more important tasks, rather than chasing people. Scheduling tools remind you so you don’t need to worry.
Keeping group emails to a minimum helps you avoid losing track of the conversation. If some need to be in an email thread, but aren’t expected to respond, you can BCC them. This way, they don’t get a reply-all blast.
You can also send emails with "no reply" rules. It’s a clever way to close a conversation. There are only particular situations this can apply to.
—Ben Duncan is founder and CTO of Atmail.com.
[Image: Flickr user hyperdashery badges]