Is your inbox winning control of your work day? Of your life? Would an email hack or two help?
A few weeks ago, Joe Pinkser of The Atlantic divided American workers into two categories: Those who constantly need to achieve Inbox Zero, deleting newsletters and e-sales at the drop of a hat, and those who’ll let that “unread” number climb into the thousands, even tens of thousands.
While those are two extremes, there are email hacks to help you feel more in control of your inbox no matter who you are.
Below, four successful women (slash email masters) share their tried-and-true email hacks for everything inbox-related:
Email Hack No. 1: Stay Mindful
As someone who can’t stand a full inbox, Anjelika Temple, the Creative Director at Brit + Co, starts every morning by going through her mail. But then, rather than staying glued to her inbox like so many of us do, she only checks in a few times throughout the day.
“Though it’s natural to constantly be checking your email, set aside a few 15-minute time slots each day to tackle your inbox,” Temple says. “Respond thoughtfully to a few emails in that time, and move on. That way you’ll remain mindful. And you won’t be totally stressed at the end or beginning of each day.”
When you do tackle your email, Temple says to avoid marking emails that require action as “unread,” as doing so will only leave you more overwhelmed.
“For a while I was using my inbox as a to-do list and found it stressful, so I changed things up,” she says. “Using your unread section as a to-do list is overwhelming, because you will never feel like anything is done.”
Email Hack No. 2: Stay Organized
Aly Silverio is the Founder of independent clothing company, Jawbreaking. She controls three different email accounts: her personal account, the business account, and the customer service account. With three inboxes to manage, how does she stay sane?
First and foremost, Silverio says she utilizes Apple Mail to keep the three accounts separate from each other. Within each individual account, she makes folders for different topics, such as “collaborations” and “gifting.” She also adds the people she communicates with most—i.e. the people in her office—to her VIP list. That way, she’ll never miss a message from them.
Though replying to emails is a big part of Silverio’s day-to-day job, she knows that sometimes email can wait. She advises against responding to most mail while on the go.
“I don’t like to reply from my phone because I’m scared of typos or the email not sending properly,” Silverio says. “If it’s important or urgent, I’ll reply straight from my phone. If I know I can’t reply at that moment, I definitely flag it so I can get back to it later when I’m at a computer.”
Email Hack No. 3: Stay Prioritized
Take it from Breanna DiGiammarino, Category Lead at Indiegogo Life: Sometimes it’s easiest to let your webmail provider organize your inbox for you.
Breanna uses the Gmail Priority Inbox tool to focus on only the most important emails that come her way. The Priority Inbox analyzes what emails you read and reply to most often. It then separates mail into three categories: Important and Unread, Starred (anything you’ve marked for later review), and Everything Else.
“The key to productivity is prioritization,” she says. “I identify the most valuable things I can do each day and structure my time around those tasks. Sometimes email is part of that work, and sometimes it is not.”
Even if checking email isn’t at the top of her to-do list, one of DiGiammarino’s best email hacks is to go back to her inbox at the end of the day or week to follow up on her lower priority threads, both professional and personal. “I try to respond to every personal email I receive because you never know when cultivating a relationship will lead to an interesting conversation, a business partner, or even a new employee,” she explains.
Email Hack No. 4: Stay Focused
“We live in a world that is out of control from a pace and quantity perspective. We have an ever-quickening expectation around responsiveness. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed!” she says.
“Take a step back. Focus. Prioritize from most important to least important. We are often distracted by false urgencies. This is often at the expense of doing what is most important first.”
“It is always worth doing what is most important first.”
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Levo League.