According to a July 2019 survey held by Adobe for their annual Email Usage Study, adults reported spending about five hours a day checking email - two for their personal accounts and three for work - in a wide variety of places and situations.
While this survey only included 1002 people in its sample, it still raised a valid point - five hours in a 24-hour span is a lot of time. It’s nearly 21 percent of the day in total. Fortunately, there are some ways that you can make your email a more efficient option.
Use Labels, Filters, and Categories to Organize Your Emails
We’ve all confronted what seems to be an insurmountable inbox. Despite our best efforts to take care of emails as they came in, the messages have piled up and nothing can be found anymore - which makes looking for that “one email” to check something quickly somewhat difficult. Fortunately, you can utilize filters and categories to help reduce this effect.
Categories take your inbox and split it up into more approachable, contextual parts, based on the contents of the message. In Gmail, there are five categories that you can use (unfortunately, these cannot be added to or customized):
In your inbox Settings, access the Inbox tab. For “Inbox type,” select Default. Then, under “Categories,” select the tabs you want to use. To finish, click Save Changes. Your emails will now appear in separate lists, based on what criteria they meet.
You can also use two features, labels and filters, as an alternative way to organize your emails. Through a fairly straightforward process, your emails can have a label applied (or any of a variety of other processes) using a filter based on certain attributes. Keep in mind, these filters will not work retroactively.
To create a filter, go to Settings, and access the Filters and Blocked Addresses tab. Click Create a new filter, and input the rules you want your incoming messages to be based on. You can also search for an email already in your inbox that you want to base the filter on, so any similar messages that come in will be filtered. Once you are satisfied, click Continue, and you can select which actions you want to take. If you select Apply the label, you have the opportunity to create a new label for incoming messages that also meet the criteria you’ve decided on.
This will sort your messages in the sidebar menu, where you can view them all collected in one place. While this sounds like a time-intensive process, it makes dealing with emails much easier in the future.
Unsubscribe from Unnecessary Messages
One of the most effective ways to reduce the amount of time you spend dealing with email messages is to simply cut back on the number of them you have to deal with. Over time, you may have used your work email to subscribe to a variety of work-related things, like industry newsletters, company-related social media updates and other notifications.
While some may still prove to be worthwhile, there are likely others that you don’t pay all that much attention to, or turned out to be intended for a different audience. Don’t be afraid to use the “unsubscribe” option - you can always change your mind later if you miss the messages.
Speaking of subscriptions, don’t forget to subscribe to our blog updates with the space you vacate in your inbox!
Don’t Feel That Email is Your Only Option
There are plenty of different forms of communication that can be leveraged in the office, so unless someone has identified email as the best way to contact them, use some other form. Telephones are still a thing, especially with VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) solutions, and instant messages have a place in the workplace as well. Ask yourself, “Would I read this email?” and if you wouldn’t, send your message in some other way.
How have you reduced the amount of time that you spend on email? Share your strategies in the comments!