Get Your Email IBS under Control!
Before I get into managing your inbox, here’s an analogy to stress the importance of this topic. A friend of mine has IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and insists on sharing with me how she is doing with her condition each time we meet. Bread is the worst she tells me and I have to avoid white wine. She goes on…
I’ll never cure it. The best I can hope for is getting it under control.’
Strangely, this got me thinking. Emails are a lot like IBS. They’ll never go away and the best you can do is to get them under control, and hope to be less dominated and stressed by them. We manage our diet to control IBS. Likewise, managing your inbox will help with controlling this email disorder.
So, Here Are My Top 10 Tips for Managing Your Inbox and Getting Your Email IBS under Control:
- Send fewer emails. Yes, I know that sounds smarmy, but it’s true. Send less and you’ll receive less. Practically, that means things like copying in one less person because it’s one less person that could reply and not adding your two penneth into a group email discussion that you can add no value to.
- Unsubscribe from external lists and internal lists. Search for ‘unsubscribe’ in your email folder, and start doing it. If you are on an internal weekly distribution list and you keep it just in case, don’t. Trust me, this is a must-do for managing your inbox.
- Sort your inbox, once a day, by ‘Conversation’, and then delete all the emails under the first email of that conversation.
- Remember Pavlov’s dogs? You can be too helpful. Many times, a problem will solve itself. Don’t be too helpful.
- Write fewer words. The challenge is to reply to the email in half the words whilst still achieving the objective. Re-read the first two words in this article’s title to see this in action — managing inbox.
- Use ‘if yes’ to half the email conversation thread. Using ‘if yes’ after you have asked a question moves the thread to another step. For example, ‘Did you mean about the graphic design? If yes, then I would do XYZ.
- Email is not an urgent form of communication so don’t use it as such. You wouldn’t email the fire brigade if your house was on fire, would you?
- Organising meetings can take a lifetime on email. A friend of mine creates a very simple table on email with names of attendees across the top and 3 times he can do below and asks them to write ‘y’ or ‘n’ on each. Sometimes managing your inbox requires a little creativity.
- Add a link in your email signature to your diary. Then people can just book without needing you.
- If you are using Microsoft 365 check out their ‘myanalytics’ where you can see how many emails you send, receive, and with who. You’ll be intrigued. Then, ask your colleagues, and compare. Find out who sends the most emails. Maybe you then need an email agreement among your team.
Let’s get this ‘condition’ under control and start managing your inbox today.