Hacking Your Email: 7 Tips to Ensure Emails Don't Derail Your Workflow
Emails can be the worst. They're essential to workplace communications, but
they can quickly derail your workflow. How many times has a five-minute email
check turned into you moving away from your to-do list and jumping into another
task you didn't intend to start until later?
Emails are a time-stealer. A recent and staggering survey found that email
fatigue could lead to
38% of workers quitting their jobs
In your role as a project manager, your email is likely pulling you in the
direction of vendors, clients, and co-workers. How do you stay focused and
still effectively manage your email communications?
Here are some handy tips for ensuring your emails don't disrupt your daily workflow consistently.
Turn off Email Notifications
This tip may seem counterintuitive to staying on top of workplace communications,
but it can lead you to a more productive outcome.
Have you ever been engaged in deep work, and a notification breaks your concentration?
Your intention may be to stay up-to-date on work emails, but you may be finding it
hard to stay focused since you know an email has entered your inbox.
Email notifications make it hard to control your schedule as they can create the
temptation to stop what you're doing and immediately check your email.
Not only do email notifications impact your ability to focus and get work done,
but those constant "pings" can even affect the way your brain works. A study by
researchers at Korea University revealed that smartphone alerts could change your
brain chemistry and even reduce its efficiency by 40%.
So, consider turning off or delaying email notifications to take more control
over your workflow. It can do wonders for your focus and productivity.
Have a Set Time to Check Emails
So, what are your options if you decide to turn off the notifications? A great
way to stay on top of your emails and regain control of your schedule is by
establishing a set time to check emails.
Set up a time that best works for you to run through the most important messages
in your inbox, and ensure that this time coincides with your workflow.
You may determine that morning time is the best time since you can add any directives
that you see from emails to your to-do list. On the other hand, answering emails in
the middle or at the end of the day can give you a jump on activities that you can
schedule to handle tomorrow.
If you want to organize this process further, you can even set up an alarm on your
phone that notifies you to check your email throughout the day.
Again, this move enables you to check emails at a time that is the most convenient
for you and your workflow.
Try Out an Instant Messaging App for Urgent Messaging
Emails can cause you to suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out) and thinking that
you are going to miss an urgent directive. A way to overcome this is by using a
communication platform to handle messaging that requires a quick response so you
can direct less time-critical messaging to your email.
Try investing in workplace instant messaging or chat platforms like Slack or
Microsoft Teams. Using these tools lets you be sure that you have a medium for
receiving instant messaging, so you don't feel like you're missing out on
correspondence you need for your workday.
Alternatively, you can use email to archive pivotal conversations about projects,
start conversations with a new client, and send private documentation like contracts.
Instant workplace messaging is synchronous communication, while email is considered
Knowing when to use each
type can also help you improve your workplace communication and collaboration experiences.
While it will be necessary for you to ensure that instant messaging doesn't interrupt
your routine, knowing what communications to use email for and when to use instant
messaging can bring some regularity to your schedule.
Prioritize Your Email Messages
Shift your goal of emptying your inbox each day to answering the most critical messages
daily. For example, let's say that you always notice a barrage of emails coming in on
Instead of answering every email, start prioritizing each one based on who the sender
is and the topic. You may find that some messaging doesn't require immediate attention,
while others may need a response sooner rather than later.
Also, don't forget the tools your email provides to help you do this. Many email
clients allow you to categorize your emails by priority level. You can even use task
management tools like Asana, Trello, or Monday.com to remind you to remember to
respond to messages at a specific time.
The goal of running through your emails is to find and respond to the messages
that will help you move through your job tasks most effectively.
Get Ahead of Workplace Communications
If you know you have a colleague or client who sends emails if they don't receive a
project update on a specific day, you can get ahead of that communication by sending
Start to look at the patterns of email communications. You'll start to notice the
rhythm of your email messaging throughout the week. So, start monitoring who sends
the most emails and their subject matter. This information will allow you to create
a plan for taking care of these regular correspondences.
You may decide to send your colleague a quick instant message detailing where you are
in your current project. On the other hand, you may email a client with a list of what
you're working on, with a scheduled video call to go over any details they have a
Schedule a Video or Phone Call
It's too easy to fall into a back-and-forth email thread. How often has a client
asked a question about something, only to follow up your reply with another question?
Sometimes, you can cut down on an extended email thread by simply picking up the
phone or scheduling a video call.
Not only do you benefit from cutting down on emails, but you can also ensure the
clarity of your messaging.
Today, it's much easier to integrate video conferencing tools like Skype, Zoom,
Microsoft Teams, and others into your workplace communications.
According to cloud solutions company, Lifesize,
89% of respondents
to their productivity survey said that video conferencing decreases time to complete projects.
As we continue into a work culture dominated by remote and hybrid work, it will be
even more critical to recognize when a phone or video call is the best way to
facilitate collaboration and communication.
Shake Off Any Stress from the Sender
We've all been there. You are sitting in front of your inbox and reading a message
that has a hint of urgency to it. Seeing this email — whether from a client, vendor,
or colleague — can cause you to change your to-do list and drop everything to
address the messaging in that email.
If this has happened to you, you aren't alone. Researchers in a
University of California, Irvine study
found that people answered emails hastily when under stress and with less care.
As hard as it might be, it would help if you tried to look over the emotion and
perceived stress from the email messaging and not let it shake your routine. You
can handle this by quickly acknowledging the email, letting the sender know when
you will reply, and then adding it to your to-do list for the day.
It's tempting to let the emotions of others impact how you approach your workday,
but an acknowledgment of the issue and a follow-up plan can decrease the stress
and anxiety so you can properly manage the request.
It's Possible to Hack Your Email Strategy to Improve Productivity
It may seem impossible at times, primarily when we depend on digital communications
to get through the workday. Nevertheless, email can become an asset to your work
routine instead of a liability.
The takeaway here is that you don't have to have your email open all day or
switch over to your inbox the second you hear a notification.
Your goal should be to make your email communications complement your work style
and ensure you have the information you need to accomplish your work goals.
Email is Making us Miserable,
Survey Finds Email Fatigue Could Lead 38% of Workers to Quit Their Jobs,
Smartphone Addiction Creates Imbalance in Brain,
When to Choose Synchronous Vs. Asynchronous Communication,
Video Conferencing Statistics for 2019,