Email Tips, Tricks and Tools

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Do you ever feel like email is your boss?  I do not know about you, but it can be overwhelming to look at my inbox. Oftentimes my workday is consumed by checking email. Sound familiar?

Managing email is essential to being productive.  I’ve been reading blogs and listening to podcasts from productivity experts.  Here are a few tips and tricks I have picked up.

  1. Reduce Your Use – Try checking your email only a few times a day, rather than multiple times an hour.  This has been helpful to me as far as saving time, but it also helps me to better focus on what I need to be focused on, the real work.
  2. Process It – For some reason I tend to read an email multiple times without doing anything with it.  So in addition to checking email several times an hour, I’m not moving on any of it.  Now I try to check it only a few times a day and when I do, I try to process it, that is, I reply or move it to my task list, and then archive it out of my email inbox.  Typically I process 1-2 times a day.  Occasionally I will check my inbox again if I am waiting on something.
  3. Inbox Zero – This goes with processing, but the goal is to clean out your inbox daily.  You can google “inbox zero” for all kinds of advice.  I know it sounds crazy but it is possible and very freeing.
  4. 2 minutes – From David Allen I use the 2 minute rule when processing email.  If I can reply or do whatever is in the email in 2 minutes or less, I do it right away.  If I cannot do it in 2 minutes or less, I move it to my task list and move on to the next email.  This really helps with productivity!
  5. Moving to Evernote – As you know, I love Evernote.  I use it both to store information and for task management.  For those emails I want to keep for reference or that have a task for me that will take more than 2 minutes, I move them to Evernote.  Evernote provides an email for you to send to for just this purpose.  More info here.

On this last tip, I want to add two tools I use for moving emails to Evernote.

  • Powerbot for your desktop/laptop – Powerbot enables me to rapidly get to inbox zero by tagging and selecting notebooks before I send them to Evernote.  If you prefer Dropbox, that functionality is also available.
  • Dispatch for your iPhone – Dispatch allows me to quickly run through emails from my phone as I am out and about.  I am still deciding, but it may be the fastest way I process email.  It includes some extra features to make processing easy and quick.  Very helpful for getting to inbox zero without being in the office.

Both of these tools allow me to move email quickly to Evernote.  I am able to put them into notebooks and tag the notes, which keeps me from having to enter a long email extension or have to process the message again in my Evernote inbox.

What email tips, tricks and tools do you have?  Please share in the comments section.

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