Ever feel like you sometimes spend all day in your inbox? I know I do. Or at least…I used to. Then I discovered the simple hack I’m going to share with you today. And now I can usually get through my emails in less than 30 minutes per day.
Which means I spend less time stuck in “inbox jail”…
And I spend more time getting paid to do client work — or taking time off to relax.
So here’s the framework I use…
“Email received is a function of email sent.”
Meaning the more emails you send, the more emails you get back.
So if you want to get fewer emails? Send fewer emails.
But too often, we go on autopilot when we open our inbox.
And we just delete or reply to every message that’s there — without a second thought.
Yet by taking a few seconds to be strategic about your responses, you can dramatically reduce the time you spend dealing with your email.
So to start — don’t use email if you can avoid it!
Need to send a shorter message? Use Slack, GChat, or text when appropriate.
Sending something about a specific project? Put it in your project management system — like Trello, Asana, Basecamp — if you have one.
Juggling multiple email chains about the same topic? Combine them all into a single thread if possible.
Need to have a larger discussion? Set up a quick phone call — instead of kicking off a protracted back-and-forth email conversation.
Because if you simply stop using email for all your messages out of habit, you can seriously cut out the time you spend in “inbox jail.”
But there’s also another — more advanced — layer to the framework I shared…
“When emails arrive to interrupt you is determined by when you send them in the first place.”
Meaning if you send an email in the morning, a reply will probably pop back up in your inbox to interrupt you sometime later that day.
So if you don’t want emails arriving to interrupt you during your day…
…don’t send those emails out during the same day! (If you can avoid it.)
Instead, use a tool like Schedule Send for Gmail and set up all your emails to go out at the end of your day.
(Click the little arrow next to the send button. Then click “Schedule Send” and choose a time for the email to go out later in the day.)
That way, you can close your laptop and let the responses pile up while you’re offline. And then you can address them all at the same time the following day.
Not only does batching emails like this dramatically speed up how fast you can send out your replies…
You also won’t get interrupted by replies to these emails during the rest of your work day, either.
And if you really want to take your email batching to the next level, you can use a tool like Inbox Pause.
Inbox Pause takes all new messages and files them into a “hidden” folder in Gmail — so they don’t hit your inbox until you’re ready. (Don’t worry though. You can find the folder — or just unpause your inbox — if something important comes in.)
Now of course, if you have an urgent message for a client, you have to send that in a timely manner.
So don’t wait to send out any urgent replies.
But by definition, most emails are not urgent. Since you can’t guarantee the other person will receive it and read it right away.
Truly urgent messages should happen in “real time” — with a phone call or instant message if you’ve confirmed the other person is there to reply.
That means you can use the hacks I shared today on almost every email you get to stay out of “inbox jail” — and spend more time on the things that matter instead.
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