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Ten ways to form a healthy relationship with your email

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(1) You are the master of your inbox

The quickest way to find yourself facing a deluge of emails is if you let your emails control you so remember youdont need to hit reply as soon as a message is received. Email is not instant messaging. It wasn’t made to have a continuous two-way chat. Email is about getting things done and you can’t ever get things done if you are constantly sending and receiving emails backAnd forth to everyone who emails you.

(2) Shut down conversations

If you find yourself in an on-going email dialogue, have a technique to close it off politely. Take time to consideryour reply so you don’t leave questions open, answers misread or statements misunderstood and open to even more questions. You’ll soon realise no-one, especially you, wants to engage in an endless email trail that leads nowhere.

(3) Use folders to file crucial messages

These are so often underused or badly used. Your inbox is far more powerful than you know. It is not just for afull-on stream of incoming messages and replies. Filing emails sensibly can ensure your eye is focused on only the emails that need to be actioned. But don’t drag everything into them. If you aren’t 100 per cent sure you’ll need that message again, hit delete.

(4) Use categories to save you time and energy

Organise your emails around people and projects rather than date can save you hours of time. This ensures the mostimportant information is where you need it at the top of your inbox. This method will also ensure you arent being reactive to every email that comes in, instead you’re keeping on top of the most important messages.

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(5) Unsubscribe immediately

We all sign up to email newsletters on a whim. Then we wonder why each day we receive more automated messages fromdistribution lists than from friends, contacts and colleagues. So next time you skip past a newsletter in your inbox, unsubscribe from it. If you can’t be bothered to read it then, chances are you never will again. We hang on to these “just in case somethinginteresting arrives”. Usually it won’t and you’ll skip the messages time after time.

(6) You don’t need seven email addresses

It’s hard enough maintaining an uncluttered inbox for just one email address, let alone three, five or seven. Havingone personal email address and one work-related email address suffices. Use folders, filters and sub addresses instead, where someone can email you on an adapted address using a word and a full stop before your main email.

(7) Spring clean

It’s not how many emails you have in your inbox but how you manage the ones you have in there that matters. Mostof us will never reach that fabled inbox zero, if thats you then it’s far better to do a monthly clean up if you havent read something after that period you probably never will.

(8) Avoid email late at night or early morning

We’ve all got better things to do than to become a slave to our inbox. Many experts class it as an addiction tobe so in desperate need to check your messages before bed and as soon as you wake up. It will only impact on your sleep, your senses and your overall ability to have email work for you and not you work for it. Work out a time in your scheduled that is dedicatedto email and stick to it.

(9) People first

Traditionally, your email inbox is only sorted by date and time an email is sent, and only more recently groupedby conversation. Try sorting your email by person youll soon see how much time you save by easily being able to identify when you receive emails from the most important people.

(10) Take advantage of new technology

There is another way. There are tools out there providing a better way of managing your email. Try some of them out and you might end up finding something that works for you.

Bostjan Bregar is CEO of 4th Office.

Image: Shutterstock

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