The number one way to improve your email productivity is to move to batch processing of your email.
What is batch processing? Basically, instead of keeping your email open all day and constantly checking it and processing email, move to a system where you check email one or two times a day.
For example, open and check your email 2x a day: at 8AM and 4PM.
How to batch process your email.
- Look at the most important communications you get via email. Do they need to be responded to immediately? For the most part, no. But, for those that do, make a list of those contacts. You need to let those people know you are only processing your email on a set schedule. If they need to reach you, give them an alternate real-time communication method where you only communicate with important (to you) people (ie: SMS, Slack, Teams).
- Figure out how to send an email without opening your email client. For example, with Gmail you can install this extension — it allows you to open a compose window without viewing your inbox.
- Set your email schedule — put it on your calendar as a daily appointment. Only check emails during those periods.
- Turn off all email notifications — from your desktop and mobile.
- When you do process your inbox, you need to handle every email. I use a GTD methodology:
- Can you answer the email in 2 minutes or less? If so, answer it and archive it.
- Can you delegate the email? If so, forward it and archive it.
- Otherwise, add the email to your EXTERNAL to do list. Don’t use Gmail or Email to manage your to do list. Todoist is an example of a to do list manager that allows you to forward emails to it.
- Consider using DNDEmail (which I created). It actually pauses your email according to your schedule. New emails are held OUTSIDE of your Inbox — that keeps your inbox clean and you focused on your real to do list. Emails are only delivered to your inbox on your schedule.