Question: What is one step I can take to reduce the number of emails I send or reply to every day?
Pick Up the Phone
"It is so easy to hide behind a screen, whether it be your monitor, your phone or your tablet. A great way to reduce the in and out flow of emails is to use an old-fashioned piece of technology: the telephone. My general rule of thumb is: the longer an email becomes, the more likely that the topic is better suited to a phone call. More phone calls equate to a lighter inbox."
Include Everything the First Time
"Whenever you send an email, provide all the details needed to complete the task or make the decision. This will dramatically reduce the amount of back and forth needed to answer questions. For example, include relevant logins, documents, an itemized to do list and answer potential questions all in your first email. If you spend 10-15 minutes on a long email, it could save you a week of back and forth!"
Hire a Personal Assistant
"I hired an assistant on oDesk, and she has saved my life in terms of cleaning up my inbox. Now, she filters and prioritizes the most important emails so I never miss something important. Email used to be my biggest time suck until I hired her. I was nervous about giving up control, and now I can't believe it took me so long to take that step! She also now handles my scheduling and HR tasks, too."
"If you're responding to more emails than you can in a day, you should start to delegate some of the responsibility to other people. Delegation is one of the best ways that I've helped clear out a lot of my inbox to only the most important things."
"Install a system like Unroll.me in your inbox so that it can automatically filter emails for you. Only the most important emails should get through to your inbox. Supplement with ActiveInbox so you can prioritize emails that require action or that you are waiting on. Then make sure you clean up your folders at least weekly to stay on top of your tasks and emails."
Batch Your Responses
"Your inbox is essentially a to-do list that someone else created for you, which means reducing the number you receive somewhat out of your control. However, if you batch your responses to specific times of the day, you'll spend a lot less time responding to those emails and avoid all of the mental switching costs associated with responding to constant email notifications."
"Slack will help reduce the number of emails you send or receive significantly by improving the way you communicate with your colleagues. You no longer have to get carried away in long email threads or answer the same questions multiple times because Slack channels and Slack search make it a lot easier to communicate."
Delegate Some Correspondence
"As a CEO, my inbox could easily overwhelm me, but I don’t let that happen. I trust my staff to respond to some email on my behalf. This helps build trust. When I started this practice, I required staff members to copy me on all correspondences, but I quickly recognized this only increased the email traffic. Now, my staff members only copy me if it’s absolutely essential."