Email is an incredibly useful tool. However, it can also be overwhelming. Indeed, dealing with hundreds of messages in your inbox can take up a huge chunk of your time and affect your productivity. To avoid this problem, we’ll be discussing a few our tips for handling your emails. Aside from getting your inbox in order, these tips can also help you with better time and workload management.

1. Dedicate a Time for Checking Emails

It’s perfectly fine to check your email several times a day. This is especially true if you’re in a management position, where you need to be in the loop for various projects and other office matters. However, what is not fine is to process your emails as they come. It’s not just time-consuming, but also quite inefficient. In fact, you might find yourself losing momentum when you stop what you’re doing to reply to an email. A good idea is to allocate a time slot for addressing emails. Reply to those that need an urgent response and then shelve the rest for later. If you don’t finish everything within your allocated time, then simply continue processing the rest on the next day.

2. Try the Two-Minute Rule

The Two-Minute Rule is a concept from author David Allen. Simply put, the ‘Two-Minute Rule’means that if the email will NOT take longer than two minutes to read and reply to, then you should read it and reply to it immediately. For emails that don’t fall into this category, you should put them in a “Read/Reply Later” folder, a to-do list, or something similar. You can also use your email service’s own tagging system to mark those items that you need to respond to later. As with the previous point, learn how to prioritise. If something is urgent, address it ASAP.

3. Organise Your Emails

All email services nowadays have built-in filtering or labelling systems to sort your mail. Use them! It’s all up to you to develop your own sorting tags or categories. You can get as detailed as you want, even as far as filtering emails per brand or per sender. The latter is useful if you are managing a team such as a group of sales representatives. The bottom line is that a clean and organised inbox can save you a lot of stress, help you maximise time, and make you more productive.

4 Create a Separate Email Account

Do you subscribe to blogs and newsletters? It’s best to have a separate account for these types of emails. This will prevent your subscriptions from cluttering your inbox. If you’d rather have just one window for checking all your emails, however, then filters or labels will again prove to be useful. This will keep your main inbox clear of distractions, so to speak. Putting your subscriptions in one place will also help you find them more easily.

5. Identify “High-Value” Emails

If you’re a business owner, you should be able to identify which emails will bring more value to your organisation. These include networking opportunities, speaking engagements, and collaboration proposals. Respond to these types of emails first. The rest can be tabled for later using your preferred system and schedule. Employees should also learn how to spot high-value emails and prioritise them. Doing so can help maximise daily work outputs and even open opportunities for career advancement.

6. Don’t Reply to ALL Emails

You might feel like to have to respond to every single email you receive, but that’s not actually the case. If you reply to every email you receive, you’ll end up being exhausted. Moreover, not replying can also be a reply in itself. This is especially true for random emails that come from outside your organisation. If an email like a company-wide announcement or memo requires a response, a read receipt will usually suffice.

Again, learn to prioritise. Reply only to the emails that explicitly require your attention. If not, weigh the cost and benefits of replying. If the benefits outweigh the costs, go ahead and send a reply. Go back to the previously discussed points and work out a schedule and classification system for your emails.

Email has become such a common way to communicate in and out of the office. Indeed, it has become so built into our lives that not many people end up appreciating its potential for increasing productivity. If you find yourself having trouble managing your inbox, these tips can certainly help. There are also classes you can enrol in to help you work smarter using email.