3 Ways for Employers and Employees to Tame their Inboxes

Email is supposed to be a productivity tool, so why is "I have too much email to deal with" a common complaint among employees? Good email habits are important to develop — and that applies to individuals and companies.

Here are three essential strategies to help you and your employees tame your Inboxes.

screenshot of email inbox

1. Resist the Urge to Constantly Check

Set specific "office hours" for when you'll check and respond to email messages. For instance, resolve to spend one hour with your email in the morning and one hour after lunch.

Resist the temptation to peek during your non-email hours by turning off all audio and visual signals of new messages, or waiting to launch your email program until it's time for you to check your messages.

From a company standpoint, make sure you don't have a culture that expects or rewards (overtly or not) instantaneous response to emails. Finally, coach managers to value thoughtful responses over quick ones.

2. Consider Other Communication Modes

Email isn't always the most appropriate or the most effective communication method. Anything that you're reluctant to say face-to-face is a clue that you shouldn't express it in an email. Similarly, any email conversation that goes beyond three or four responses would benefit from a change in communication mode. So stop typing, and call — or walk over to the person and chat.

Consider implementing a policy that puts limits on who can send company-wide email messages or requires that such messages be prescreened by HR or the communications department. This will help ensure that audience, timing and appropriateness are considered before "Send" is hit.

3. Write Better Messages

Keep emails short and to the point. If your topic demands paragraphs of information, you might be using the wrong medium. Also, maximize the use of subject lines. Include phrases, such as "action required" or "for your information," to help recipients determine how they need to deal with your message.

Manage Email So It Doesn't Manage You

Even with texting and instant messaging on the rise, email isn't going away anytime soon. Provide guidelines on how your company uses the medium and you may find that this productivity tool actually makes everyone more productive.

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