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6 email hacks you should use to boost productivity

Tarun Mittal
24th Feb 2017
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Emails are an unavoidable and necessary part of life for most working professionals. But the importance of email has led it to be a major source of stress at the workplace. We're constantly checking our inboxes to make sure that we're not missing out on anything important. Our smartphones don't help either, allowing us to go through emails even when we're supposed to be focusing on another task. Continuously checking your emails is detrimental to productivity as it demands grappling with several tasks at once rather that focus on what currently needs attention. If you find yourself a victim to this vicious cycle, here are a few email hacks you can use to break free from it and enhance your productivity:

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Designate specific times to check email

Constantly checking emails can seriously hamper productivity and the process of planning out your work. A study found that the average worker checks their email 74 times a day. Doing this causes your mind to stress about what needs to be done and breaks the flow of work. To prevent this from happening, it's advisable to designate specific times, in around 15-20 minute slots, for checking emails. You should also disable email notifications, both on your desktop and mobile, while you're in the middle of a task to prevent interruptions.

Learn a few basic keyboard shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts are a great way to reduce the amount of time you spend on emails. Not having to switch between typing and using the mouse to take actions considerably speeds-up reading, replying to, and sorting emails. Simple (Gmail) shortcuts like muting lengthy threads by pressing ‘m’, jumping to the next email by pressing ‘k’, and sending the email by pressing ‘ctrl+enter’ are worth memorising. If you want to learn more shortcuts like these, check out the detailed list curated by HubSpot.

Make use of filters

Filters have been around for a long time in email services but few people make use of them to simplify their inbox. Filtering your incoming emails, according to their importance and the actions they require you to take, makes navigating your inbox a less-stressful task. Also, not checking non-work-related emails like newsletters, social updates, and promos while you're at work seriously bolsters focus and productivity.

Avoid using email if you can

If you need to communicate with a colleague who's sitting five feet away from you, just walk over and tell them what you need to say. It may seem like an obvious fact, but a lot of people still write emails when a short conversation would suffice. This just results in unnecessary follow-ups and more emails to deal with. Unless the conversation needs to be documented or sent to more people, always resort to verbal communication instead of emails.

Keep your emails short and precise

Writing short emails not only saves your time but also that of its recipients. Most people consider one-line emails as inconsiderate. But as long as you use a professional language and convey everything that is necessary, there's nothing wrong with sending short emails.

Never procrastinate

Once you open your inbox and start going through emails, never put-off till later what you can do immediately. Always tackle the tasks that require minimum time and effort first. And if certain emails require a time-consuming response from your end, get it over with right then. Saving emails for later leads to a pile-up in your inbox which becomes cumbersome to deal with the next time you open your mail.

Hopefully these tips will help you overcome your email addiction and make you a more efficient worker. If you have come across any other tips apart from these, share them with us in the comments below.

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