If you’re anything like me, a solid portion of your day is sifting through your inbox, sending email to junk, and responding to time-sensitive emails.
Need some help managing it? We’ve got free email hacks that will help you better manage your inbox so you can focus on the stuff that matters.
11 free email hacks to increase your productivity
1. Turn off your notifications or pause email.
Besides social media, email is where most people are inundated with information. This can be one of the biggest barriers to productivity because your attention is being drawn elsewhere.
Solution? Simply turn off email notifications to focus on your more important tasks. Better yet, you can even prevent incoming email from appearing in your inbox – if your email provider allows it.
Outlook users can pause and pause notifications through the Boomerang app when they’re ready to deal with them.
2. Block out time for batch email review.
Emails can come at any time of the day and if you’re working with an asynchronous team, there are no off-hours.
So, instead of constantly checking your emails and replying to each one as it arrives, set aside time during your day to review them.
This can be early morning, late afternoon, or whenever you expect to have some downtime.
Pro Tip: Once you decide on this time block, add it to your calendar to avoid conflicts with other work activities.
3. Create template.
You know how websites have frequently asked questions sections? In our professional careers, we often tell the same thing over and over again to our clients, colleagues and stakeholders.
To make it a little easier, create templates to avoid starting from scratch every time you draft an email.
Your templates will be based on the questions you get most often, the phrases you use most, and the messages you share most. things like:
- cold email
- redirection to other teams
- Weekly Team Notifications
- Ooo Message
To set this up in Gmail, navigate to your Settings, click the Advanced tab, and click “Enable” next to the Templates section.
4. Create folder.
Organization is the ultimate key to productivity and email often gets put on the back burner. Ironically, they hold some of the most important information we use on a day-to-day basis.
Creating folders in your email will not only make things easier to find but also more manageable when prioritizing your email.
For example, you can create categories:
- Priority (eg Action Required, Informational)
- functions (eg human resources, finance, insurance)
- Teams (such as leadership, direct reports, co-workers, etc.)
5. Filter your incoming email.
Why sort through email when you can ask your email provider to automatically do it for you?
The Filter feature – available through most email providers – allows you to sort, delete, flag and forward email.
You can do this by using the following information:
- email addresses
- words and/or phrases
Once you create the filter, you specify the automatic follow-up action.
Use cases include adding email from leadership to a specific folder, deleting junk mail, marking reminders as read.
6. Use the email scheduler.
Gone are the days when you would wake up at 6 in the morning just to send an email that you could not send at 10 last night when you had it ready.
Some email providers allow you to set a date and time for your email to be sent so you can set it and forget it – worry free.
If your provider doesn’t have this feature, consider an extension like this boomerangWhich you can integrate with your email to schedule emails.
7. Enable the “Unsend” feature.
We all do it: Send an email. Then compulsively re-read the email you’ve already re-read five times, just in case, before sending it — even though there’s nothing you can do about it. So far.
Gmail and other email providers now allow you to cancel an email a few seconds after clicking “Send,” just in case you noticed a mistake or changed your mind.
Pro Tip: Add recipients only after your email is ready to go – that way, you’ll never send an unfinished email.
8. Learn shortcuts.
Shortcuts allow you to quickly complete your email tasks without interruption.
With email shortcuts, you can:
- Compose new email.
- Add CC and BCC recipients.
- Enter the links.
- Open spelling suggestions.
- Format text with bold, italic, underline, indent, and alignment.
- Archive Email
And that’s just to name a few. If there’s a feature you use often, chances are there’s a shortcut to get you there with just a click or keystroke.
Of course, shortcuts will vary by provider and device. So before you start using them, make sure you are using the right ones.
If your inbox is anything like mine, there are a few thousand emails you never interact with.
While deleting these emails takes time, you can start de-cluttering your inbox anytime you unsubscribe from unread emails. Unfortunately, not all brands have unsubscribe workflows that will automatically remove you from the reading list.
In this case, you have to unsubscribe yourself manually. Trust me, your future self will thank you.
10. Get the Grammarly browser extension.
Most of us draft email directly from the “New Draft” box. However, that strategy comes with some risks—namely misspellings or awkward phrasing.
apps like grammatically Will serve as a proofreader, catching your mistakes as soon as you make them. Grammarly also has neat features that will tell you the tone of your message and suggest alternative phrasing.
With this tool, you never have to worry about how you sound or if there are hidden typos. It takes out all the guesswork so you can just focus on pressing “Send”.
11. Prioritize your email.
If you’re still struggling to manage the large volume of email you receive, try following this popular rule: If email requires a response in two minutes or less, do so promptly. Give Feedback.
If this will take longer, save it for later. This strategy is designed to help you get rid of clutter without getting overwhelmed.
There you have it – free email hacks that will help you get your inbox under control and maximize your productivity.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in August 2016 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.