Email is set up for you to fail. It is the one tool where someone else controls what you get to see. People use it to take your time or focus.
This is a tough fight. Many people let email run them – rather than running their email.
I find if people follow some simple rules and change their mindset with regards to their inbox, it can go from a time suck to a very powerful tool.
I follow these 11 rules to own my inbox:
1- Aim for zero emails in your inbox. This is your inbox — not the senders.
2- Right message-right channel if you can. Never put in an email what should be on the phone or in-person.
3- Take a 10-minute walk around the block before you send an email in anger.
4- Archive everything you can as soon as you can. In gmail, the shortcut for this is the "y" key.
5- Time shift emails using “snoozes” or a similar tool. If it’s an email to process next week — time shift it to later. Think of it as a temporary archiving.
6- If you’re depending on others for you to complete a task, use snoozing of email threads to remind you to check on the task.
7- Use a tool like SaneBox to auto-sort your emails (important vs unimportant). That Bed Bath and Beyond coupon email has no business in your inbox.
8- Practice unsubscribe therapy — unsubscribe or filter out all emails with the word “unsubscribe in them.” There are some tools out there for this but I generally do it manually.
9- Capitalization and punctuation aren’t necessary for quick emails with close colleagues.
10- 99% of your emails should be 2 sentences or less.
11- If you’re sending the same email repeatedly, create a macro for it. Gmail has these built-in. Other tools like MixMax do too.
And that's it. Let me know how it works for you.