Email Habits of Highly Successful People (AND SOON YOU!)

By Mel Sim

Pick up these email habits to be more efficient when dealing with the inbox.

When you receive tons of work emails every day, your inbox can quickly become something you absolutely hate about work. Especially when you have messages after messages that need your attention yesterday, today and right now.

You’re not alone in this situation. The average employee checks email 36 times an hour, spends a full 13 hours a week reading, deleting, sending and sorting emails. And when you’re distracted with an email, it takes an average of 16 minutes to refocus on what you were previously doing.

Having a cluttered email inbox is as bad as having a messy desk. Messages get lost amongst messages, unanswered emails pile up, junk gets mixed up in the mess so much so that you don’t know what’s important and what’s not... where do you even begin to clear up the mess and start organising to be productive!

With these tried-and-proven email habits from highly successful people (trust us, they get way more emails than you do!). It’s time to conquer that inbox nightmare.

#1 Schedule a no-email time
What’s that? It’s basically a time when you don’t do any email-related tasks at all – no reading, replying, flagging and tagging... essentially, no opening up your email client! Instead, spend that time doing actual work or finishing up that report without any interruption from your email notification going off all the time.

#2 Start your day by going through your inbox
Apple CEO Tim Cook wakes up at 3:45am each day to get a head start on his email, and this guy receives somewhere between 700 and 800 emails a day! Getting this head start will make things easier as you will have shifted through your inbox and separated the important from the non-important. Then, you can concentrate on getting through your day without that nagging inbox staring down at you with its unread emails. Of course, you’ll still be answering other emails that come in during your workday but at least you won’t feel stressed knowing that incoming messages are adding to your already overloaded inbox.

#3 Forget the CC function
Most of the emails clogging up your inbox are the ones where you are cc-ed in. Chances are you’re probably not interested in reading them (it’s got nothing to do with me!). So what do you do? Think twice before you put someone in the CC loop. Doing this means you’ll be attentioned every time someone replies the CC loop, even when your part is over (no thanks to that reply all button!). Also, only reply emails that concern you; don’t reply or comment simply for the sake of it. The fewer emails you send, the fewer replies you’ll get!

#4 Don’t send emails at all!
If it is really important, you should be talking to the person directly instead of sending an email and waiting for a response. This helps cut down your emails (since you won’t be getting a reply for an email you didn’t send) and it helps you focus on the important stuff. Soon your colleagues will get the idea that you’re more of the “talk to me type rather than email type” and start having real conversations with you regarding work instead of typing it all out in an email.

#5 Declare email bankruptcy
Ok so you’ve gone through the important emails and in your inbox are emails that you know won’t make a difference whether you reply them or not. Only problem is you don’t want to delete them yet because you know... That’s why your inbox can get overwhelming with messages that should be deleted but you’re hanging on to them like an email hoarder. Do what many CEOs do: Declare inbox bankrucpty and delete everything. Essentially just wipe out all your existing email debt – the ones you’ve read and don’t need anymore and the ones that don’t require any attention from you so you leave them unread. Start over with a completely clean slate and remember to apply all these email rules so you don’t end up with a cluttered inbox again.

Photo by Efe Kurnaz on Unsplash

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