Continuing from our previous post how to optimize email management part 1 we are now expanding the topic and in this post we will dig even deeper in how you can optimize your email management so that you get more time to do other things, and we will also give specific tips on Outlook, arguably the most used email client in the world.
Top 3 lessons from this post:
- Use codes in subject
- Categorize – waiting for, follow up, archive
- Use keyboard shortcuts.
6. Use codes in subject: NNTR – EOM
Typing codes in the subject saves time from your colleauges
- NNTR = NoNeedToRespond
- EoM = End Of Message
Codes can also be used for you, for instance I have a rule that when an email contains [w] it is automatically moved to the “Waiting for” folder. I have implemented this in a signature so that its both invincible for the receiver and very quick and easy. Once every day I will check my waiting for folder. Order: oldest first. >Try to keep waiting for under 20 emails if possible.
7. Use the 3 sentence rule
If a mail is longer than 3 sentences, it is probably not suitable for email.
Try to shorten it or better yet try to call or meet the person for a discussion or meeting or write a report.
8. Use apps to assist and automate
We have mentioned our favourite app in great length: Evernote which can come in very handy for archiving
Gmail apps for optimizing:
- unroll.me – unsubcribing made very easy and automated
- OtherInbox Organizer – Organizer effortlessly and securely organizes your email so you can take control of your inbox.
- Boomerang for Gmail – Schedule an email to be sent later. Easy email reminders.
- Rapportative – Rapportive shows you everything about your contacts right inside your inbox.
- Signals – tracks opened emaails, clicks and so on – a free from Hubspot – also available for Outlook.
- rightinbox – Schedule Emails in Gmail To Be Sent Later
- Evernote – We have talked so much about Evernote, but for email – forwarding emails to your Evernote is very useful. Use @ in subject to specify Notebook and # to add tags. Read more here.
- IFTTT – very good usage for automation. For instance – if I tag an email something in gmail : Trello for example. This email is now automatically added to my trello board of tasks. Another rule is that if I star a mail – it automatically adds a calendar entry. If I add tag: evernote gmail that tto my evernote.
- Evercontact – Who has time to manually update address books and CRMs? Automatice update of your adress book
9. Create categories.
Create as few categories as possible – remember you want to use this as a productivity tool. In Gmail I only use 2:
- Starred and
Cabinet is the big archive , this means that I answer and read all emails that I can at the allotted time, reply (if necessary) and if I don’t have time to reply or read now, I simply Star (shortcut: S) the email and move it to cabinet so that it disappears from my inbox and I can reply/read at a later time. This makes for a very easy and simple GMAIL management system, with the help of the 10 apps above mentioned your can become a GMAIL ninja.
In Outlook I use 2 categories for email:
- Follow Up
- Waiting for Response
I have around 7 more categories in Outlook because of Outlooks calendar feature – calendar management is for another article. 🙂 Once you have your categories in place it is time to create folders.
10. Create Folders and rules
Since categories and folders are the same in Gmail, we will use the same as we mentioned erlier. The only folder we need to create manually is :Cabinet (the Starred folder is already there and added by default) nothing more is needed.
Rules: If Gmail is your MAIN mail provider -> apply the Outlook folders and rules as described below.
- Inbox – CC
- Inbox – Invites
- Email 2013 (subfolder: sent emails 2013)
- Email 2012 (subfolder sent emails 2012)
- Email 2011 (subfolder sent emails 2011…..)
Step one is to SORT your inbox on Categorization
Step 2 create shortcuts for marking your emails
Create three “Quick Steps” in Outlook
First on is to categorize as 1. Follow Up – use shortcut code: “Ctrl + Shift +1”
Second Move to Archive use shortcut code: ” Ctrl + Shift + 2″
Third> Move to @Waiting Folder Ctrl + Shift +3
If you don’t have time now to answer: use shortcut shift +1 and it will be highlighted as follow up.
Expand the category you wish to work on in your inbox. Aim should be that it is empty 80% of the time (when you are active) (pareto principle)
Step 3: For longer issues that you either are handling in a specific project OR simply waiting for counterpart to reply back move that to “Waiting for” folder. You can also create a keyboard shortcut “Quick Steps” for that in outlook – I use Ctrl+Shift+3
Step 4. Review waiting for folder once every day.
Step 5: create automatic rules for Waiting for:
For examples when you know that you need a reply from someone you can ask outlook to automatically move your sent email to your waiting for folder, with a smart trigger in your signature. I created a rule searching all emails for: [w] So when I have emails I need to follow up I created a signature with [w] in it so those emails automatically will be in my Waiting for folder.
Step 6. ENjoy your new found freedom and focus on the things you love.
“Email is a black hole for information”
Call To action: Implement at least one of our email tips and let us know what you think of this post
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