David Ly Khim is a growth marketer for Sidekick by HubSpot where he writes about email productivity. When he isn’t writing, he is often found reading a book or on the dance floor. He would love it if you connect with him on Twitter @davidlykhim.
Email is a strange beast. There’s a fine balance between using it as an effective means of communication and letting it drain your mental energy because you’re checking it sporadically.
1. Send and …
Archive. If you respond to an email, archive it. If you don’t need to respond to an email, archive it. This way, you can always refer to old emails. Only delete an email if you’re certain that you won’t ever need it again.
Gmail Pro-tip: Activate Send & Archive to respond to an email and archive it in one click. Here’s how:
- In Gmail, click the gear icon in the top right, then click Settings.
- In the General tab, scroll down to the “Send and Archive” section.
- Selection Show “Send & Archive” button in reply.
- Click Save Changes at the bottom of the page.
Your Send button will look like this:
2. Batch your emails.
Batch your emails into specific time periods. Brian Balfour, the VP of Growth at HubSpot, batches his emails twice a day. The first round at between 11am and 12pm. The second round is between 4pm and 5pm.
While we may not be perfect with our email batching schedules, it’s important to understand the consequences of sporadically checking email throughout the day.
Say you’re in the middle of a writing a blog post, if you open up a new tab in your browser to check email, you’ve shifted tasks and caused a mental barrier which decreases productivity.
Switching between tasks requires the mind to adjust, effectively saying two things:
- “I want to do this now instead of that.”
- “I’m turning off the rules for that and turning on the rules for this.”
Batch emails as much as you can to save mental energy.
3. Save your energy.
Email often doesn’t require intense mental energy. Chances are most of your emails are subscriptions or require a short response.
The key is understanding your energy levels. Are you most focused in the morning or afternoon? Spend that mental energy on high-ticket projects.
Email when you have the least mental energy.
4. Notifications are focus drainers.
You probably get notifications on your phone. Whenever you get a text, a message on Facebook, or an email, your phone lights up with a ding! Then you stop what you’re doing, and pick up your phone.
This interruption completely ruins your flow, especially if you’re deep in a project.
What’s worse, is if you have a habit of checking email first thing in the morning. While it works for some, for the rest of us, it tends to stress us out. Instead of starting off the day with a calm and clear mind, we start thinking about everything we need to do the moment we wake up.
Turn off your mobile email notifications. Have a designate time for email that fits your schedule, not because you got a notification.
5. Put your email on a pedestal.
Don’t let just anyone get into your inbox. You might be subscribed to a few dozen newsletters (some you might not even be aware you signed up for) that you don’t care for.
Be ruthless about unsubscribing to newsletters you don’t find interesting or don’t learn from. Use Unroll.me to mass unsubscribe from subscriptions. As you can see below, Unroll.me gives you a list of everything you’re subscribed to and you can easily unsubscribe to all of them with a click.
If you don’t manage your subscriptions, you might find your email piled up with more and more promotional offers.
6. Don’t waste time typing every response.
You might find yourself typing out the same response to people over and over again. You can save time by creating templates using canned responses in Gmail. You can literally compose a complete email in two clicks.
This helps if you receive a lot of networking emails requesting for your time to chat or meet over coffee.
Better yet, if you don’t want to type out an email, you can use your voice to type your emails instead. I often saved time by talking out emails while stretching or while enjoying a cup of coffee in the afternoon.
Are there any principles we missed? Let us know your email guidelines in the comments below.