Don't Be a Slave to Your Inbox

Photo by Devonyu/iStock / Getty Images

Everyone every now and then gets overwhelmed by their inbox. If you feel like you are spending too much time on your responding and sending e-mails, here are five tips to help you take control!

1) Check Your Inbox in Batches

Learn to check your emails at certain times throughout the day. This is an effective way of processing and getting things done. Check emails at fixed times and no more than half an hour each time. For example, if you decide to check your email at 9 a.m., Noon, and 4 p.m.; this would free you up to complete other tasks. You can be flexible depending on how many emails you get in a day.

2) When to Reply

Email should not be used for urgent matters; that’s where phone calls come in handy. However, email is great for correspondence where you don’t need an immediate response. Try and break the habit of responding to emails right away. The sender will start to assume that you are available at all times. This is a good time to implement checking your email at fixed times.

3) Use the 80/20 Rule

Learn to prioritize your inbox. Not every email holds equal importance. Prioritize your important emails and respond in the same business day. Twenty percent of your emails probably need your attention within 24 hours; and that leaves 80 percent you can put in a follow up folder and respond within the next three to five business days. And remember, not every email needs a reply.

4) Your Response

Be concise when writing your emails. You will receive equally concise responses. Don’t you hate when you have a string of emails that could’ve been combined in one or two exchanges.

5) Inbox Etiquette

Entrepreneur Guy Kawasaki recommends the “five sentence rule” when writing emails. “Proper email is a balance between politeness and succinctness. Less than five minutes is often abrupt and rude, more than five sentences wastes time.” Find your balance!