If you dread launching your email programme because you receive so many emails, you are not alone. Studies show that we spend about two hours of each work day on emails – and this is likely to increase. Finding ways to manage work email can help to reduce stress and increase your productivity.

Here are some frequently asked questions and answers about how to manage email and save time doing so.

How often should I check my email?
This really depends on your work situation. For most of us, checking email three times per day is sufficient – perhaps first thing in the morning, halfway through the day, and at the end of the day. Do not respond to email as it comes in. Many email programmes have a message alert feature that will let you know when new mail has arrived. Unless your work requires you to answer emails as they arrive or you are expecting an urgent email, turn off the message alert and stick to a regular schedule to check email.
What is the best way to handle mail in the inbox?
Your inbox should contain only email that you are waiting to read or that requires action. Set up your email programme to sort mail automatically into pre-designated folders. The aim is to deal with each email message once only, by responding, filing, forwarding, or deleting it.
How can I save time when sending and receiving email?

  • Use the subject line to give the recipient an indication of what the email is about.

  • Change the subject heading to reflect the content of the new message when replying.

  • Be clear, concise, and to the point.

  • Stick to one major subject per email, especially if you are requesting the recipient to take action on a number of different items.

  • Be clear about what action you are expecting from the recipient.

  • Create a signature file (see your email programme) that automatically includes your contact information at the end of each email.

How can email folders save me time?
If you receive more than ten emails per day, folders can be a great time-saving feature. You can separate important email from less important by setting up your email to recognize key words and direct the messages straight into project or client folders. These will make it much easier for you to find crucial emails and make it less likely for them to get lost in the deluge.
When is it counterproductive to use email?
Email is not the best option if you are dealing with an urgent matter and don’t want to waste precious time. If you know the recipient is in their office or you can reach them on their cell phone, you have a better chance of resolving the issue quickly. If your response to an email would be long and involved, picking up the phone and having a conversation will save you time.

These email management tips are just one of the 25 exercises Lucy MacDonald has created in her latest book.

You Can Manage Your Time Better shows you how to maximize your time, eliminate stress and reclaim your life. Stress and anger management expert Lucy MacDonald shares her expert tips for coping with time pressured situations: from handling meetings at work to finding time to be creative.

And you can pre-order this book today!

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