“How do you manage to keep your mailbox spotless?” I asked this question more than a decade back. It was directed to one of the best managers in my career. He sat down with me and explained the formula. As we live in a world of digital distractions, a thoughtful approach to manage your mailbox definitely helps. Here are some of best practices I have picked up in my career thus far-
1) Create relevant folders to move important emails. Use the rule functionality wherever applicable to automate the process. Create one for your immediate boss for sure.
2) Delete emails instantly, if it’s neither for your action nor for information.
3) Clear your inbox daily either by responding or moving emails to appropriate folders.
4) Turn off the email notification option if you are to work on a task with undivided attention.
5) If you are obsessed with responsiveness, close the mailbox while attending a meeting or working on a business case. If someone really needs you, he/she will use other means to contact.
6) If your organization has a purge policy, please save the important emails in a secured drive.
7) Please respond to every email in a timely fashion, so that you receive timely response in return.
8) Choose subject line judiciously e.g response required by tomorrow, request approval for X project, escalation etc.
9) Think thrice before using “replying all” if there are more than 10 people in the email chain. Use bcc appropriately.
10) If you work in a global firm, use the “schedule later” or “delay delivery” option to ensure your email gets attention in another time zone’s working hours.
11) Ask yourself if an email is necessary over a phone call before typing.
The idea is to make email management simple.
“That’s been one of my mantras-focus and simplicity”- Steve Jobs