While Slack and other communication tools seem to have permeated our work lives – in some cases for the better, and in some cases not so much – email is still a part of our reality at work. And the same challenges that existed 10 years ago can still plague us today if we don’t have a plan for how to stay on top of things.
Here are 4 tried-and-true ways to make sure you conquer your work email Monday through Friday.
1. Don’t Look at Email First
It’s hard to not wonder what’s in store for you each day in your inbox. But instead of checking your phone for texts, DMs, and email first thing, resist the urge and spend your first hour getting something knocked off your to-do list. Then, once you’ve made some progress for the day, sit back with your coffee and dive in.
2. Turn Off Notifications
Yes, you definitely need to know when an urgent request comes through, but unless you’re manning a help desk with a contractual Service Level Agreement, most things can wait for just a minute. Instead of feeling like you’re tied to your inbox by the dinging sounds from your phone, wait until you’ve finished your last task, phone call, or document before you jump out of your flow of thoughts to answer an email.
3. Schedule Your Reply Times
This one won’t work for everyone, but many busy leaders will even include a note in the email signature that reads, “I check my email each day at noon and 4pm” (or something similar). This is a fair warning to anyone hoping for a quick reply that it might not happen till later. And the peace of mind you’ll get from knowing you’re not obligated to check email every second of the day will change your workday for the better overnight.
4. Unsubscribe Ruthlessly
Take a hard look at every newsletter you receive and decide if it’s really something you need cluttering up your inbox. Sometimes we like the idea of keeping our finger on the pulse of things by having a particular business guru’s email pop up every month, but if you haven’t opened those emails in over two months, it’s time to unsubscribe.