Making Email Work Harder

Email gets a lot of stick. It doesn’t take too long before you stumble across someone posting a screenshot of their phones home screen and they have 10,000 email notifications. It’s easy to see why people hate it. I like to think I’m on top of email, and I use it a little differently to some people.

I use email like a to-do list. Anything that needs an action stays in the inbox. If I’ve actioned it I archive it, and if I’m sure I’ll never need to see it again—like email newsletters—I delete it. I don’t bother with folders or labels that much as the search is often good enough for me to find old emails so I don’t need to mess around with where everything goes. If I have an email which I’m sure is really important I’ll check the contents of it into Evernote for safe keeping.

Email Can Wait

If something is important you’ll more than likely get a call. People don’t expect to get a reply right away when they send an email, so I try to check email twice a day. Just before I start work and just after lunch works well for me. This leaves the rest of the day free for more productive work. If I’m away from work I still check email once a day to quickly keep on top of it so I don’t have a mountain to climb on my return. My mail client helps a lot with that.

Mail Applications

I’ve used a variety of mail applications in the past year, from the native Mail client on the Mac and iPhone, to some third party ones.

On mobile, I was drawn in by the Mailbox iOS app and once I moved all my email accounts over to Google Mail I put it all through Mailbox. It’s ability to snooze email was a deal breaker for me, and seen me move off the native Mail app.

On desktop, there was no Mailbox app at the time—the beta is out now though—so I just stuck with the native Mail app for sometime before moving onto Airmail. I found I could get it to work a lot nicer with Mailbox, and would still be using it if it wasn’t for the Mailbox Beta.

Write Less

I used to be a fan of big emails, but they often encouraged two types of replies—a big one, or none at all. Now I try to keep what I write as short as I can, whilst keeping it personal. Keeping things short also helps when you need to reference past emails and need to quickly scan through a whole conversation.

What works for you?

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