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Reclaiming My Time…From Email

Estimated reading time ~ 2 min
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The average professional spends approximately 28% of the workday combing through their inbox to respond and answer emails, according to a McKinsey analysis. That number has since increased with the growing remote workforce. Imagine spending roughly 13 hours a week of precious productivity on your inbox! Don’t fear, we’re reclaiming our time. Here are three simple adjustments to your routine that will make email a much more effective tool for getting work done.

Notifications should be useful, not distracting.

Avoid the email sinkhole by changing your notification settings. When you have an overactive inbox, it’s hard to focus on other tasks. Decide which emails you want to see or hear alerts for like new messages, reminders and email receipts. Dare to be bold and turn them off all together! Check your email at the top of the hour, setting aside 5-10 minutes per hour to prioritize new messages.

Rethink how you organize your inbox.

A lot of us have become micro managers of our email folders. Instead of saving emails into an endless amount of folders, create two — one for “reading” that doesn’t require a response, and one for others that require a response. Take it one step further and Pin or Star important emails if you can’t respond immediately. You can also reduce the mental tax of filing by automating your filters. Set up automated filtering for industry newsletters and other content you actively engage with, and ruthlessly unsubscribe from things you don't read. There are always those sneaky emails that keep returning even after you’ve unsubscribed, make sure to block those senders and add to spam.

Set your status.

Like Slack or other internal messaging systems, your email can also use a status update. Let team members know that you're on vacation or focusing on a timely request. Feel free to add a fun emoji for clarity.

Example of status meanings 👩🏾‍💻 ⏱

  • Available = open for conversation, questions, and general chat
  • Busy = working on something but open can stop
  • DND = working on a deadline, do not interrupt except for urgent matters
  • BRB = taking a break, limit this to 15 minutes at a time
  • Away = taking a longer break, limited to an hour

These are just a few ways to clear your load throughout the day. Don’t forget that the email will wait for you, it’s okay to focus on your work at hand. Start freeing yourself from email and reclaim your time.

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