Rule Your Inbox

In meetings, coffee with friends, movies and while driving down the road our phones are constantly alerting us to the next incoming message. So often that incoming message is a new email. We are collectively drowning in email.


Thankfully, there is a way out. There is a path to relieving the stress and pressure this places on us. Make these seven changes as you read, construct and disseminate email and rule your inbox.   

1. Send an email only when it is the best medium for a communication. People already receive too many emails; do not add to it unnecessarily. Ask yourself what is the best way to communicate this message? Consider all available mediums such as phone, text messages & hand written notes then determine the best medium. Don’t send an email when a phone call will do!

2. Produce good and useful email. Don’t waste people’s time with a poorly written email. It should be clear, concise and effective. Write with the reader in mind. Make sure they know; why you are emailing them specifically, what you want / need and if they need to respond? The subject line should provide clarity, generate curiosity and help the reader know how to treat your email.

3. Check email only at predetermined times. Set aside specific times to check email and keep it closed at other times. Morning, after lunch and at the end of the day should be sufficient. You may need to send emails throughout the day but only check emails at these predetermined intervals.   

4. Do something with every email in my inbox every time you check email. Answer it, erase it, folder it or forward it. Empty your inbox each time you check email.

5. Automate as much as possible. Create templates for common emails and use them. Better to spend time constructing a good and effective communication once than to repeatedly create ineffective email on the same topic.  

6. Respond to an email only when it accomplishes something. If you would not write it on paper and mail it don’t email it either. Give greater significance to email by only writing important messages.

7. Use email for its proper function. Tools serve specific purposes and are to be used accordingly. Email is a tool for the effective communication of important information. It is not a task list or RSS feed nor to be used for anything other than its proper use.