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Here at SaneBox, we love email — when it’s used well. That’s a crucial distinction. When you understand and use email effectively, it can be a fantastic tool. When you and your colleagues use email indiscriminately, it can be a huge drain on time and productivity.

 

Some studies say that we spend up to 28% of our workweeks managing email. The University of California, Irvine discovered that on average we’re interrupted by email roughly every three minutes, and once interrupted it can take 23 minutes for a worker to return to the original task.

 

That’s why here at SaneBox, we want to help you use email better! It means access to tools like intuitive filtering, SaneReminders, SaneDigest, and SaneNoReply. But, we know that even with all these wonderful tools, sometimes it’s not enough. Fortunately, we have a solution. We’ve worked with our good friends over at Spinsucks to give you the SaneBox Scoop on when to send email, when to make a phone call, and other tips.

 

Limit how often you check your email each day

 

The biggest change you can make to your email habits is to only check, process, and respond to email two or three times a day. We recommend setting aside half an hour to 45 minutes twice a day for all your email needs. Mid-morning and mid-afternoon are good times for processing email.

 

Batch your responses when you send email

 

As you’re checking your email each day, batch your responses. Find common areas you’re emailed about and use templates and other techniques to reduce your administrative overhead.

 

Make your email writing into an art form

 

You can reduce the email you receive by writing amazing emails yourself.

 

Ensure you include all the relevant information in the email.

Break it down into short paragraphs and use bullet points and numbered lists to clearly explain things.

Link to resources where people can go for further information.

Read through your email as the recipient and ask “does this answer all the questions I need it to?”

Redraft as necessary.

 

Change how you send email

 

Before you send an email, ask yourself:

 

Is this email really necessary?

Is email the best medium for this message?

Who can I avoid copying in?

 

Educate others about how to contact you

 

A lot of managing email effectively is about letting others know how to contact you. For example:

 

Let them know you will check your email twice a day and they can expect your response when you do that.

Rather than emailing you several times, get them to consolidate all of their questions, requests, and actions in a single email.

Get them to use  a very clear subject line

Inform them when it would be better for them to call, text, slack, or instant message you instead.

Inform them when matters can wait for a face-to-face meeting.

 

Unsubscribe from email you don’t read

 

One of the worst culprits for email is circulars, newsletters, and automated messages that just clog up your inbox. Go through all of those and purge them! Use the unsubscribe links at the bottom of the messages to send them to a pixelated grave! If that doesn’t work, simply use our SaneBlackHole unsubscribe feature.

 

Setup an email account just for VIPs

 

You can set up a specialized email account and only give that out to important colleagues, managers, and executives in your business. You can then create rules and notifications to inform you when you get an email to that account and check your other account less often.

 

Use tools like If This Then That and Zapier to automate email

 

Services like If This Then That (IFTTT) and Zapier can make managing your email much easier. Essentially, after you’ve set them up, they will actively monitor your email inbox. When they discover an email that meets certain criteria (e.g. it is urgent, comes from a particular person, has certain words in the subject line, etc.) they will then trigger another event. You could set them up so you receive an SMS message whenever your boss emails you.

 

IFTTT and Zapier allow you to create many rules and use sophisticated filtering to automate much of your email management.

 

If you want to be less distracted by email, you need to take action. Educate your colleagues, be disciplined about when you send email, create better messages, and automate what you can. You’ll be amazed how much time and frustration you can save! If you want to improve the overall quality of how you communicate professionally, go visit the lovely people over at Spinsucks.