Lade resumes her work on a Monday morning. She works as the product manager of B&Z beverages limited. As usual, Mondays come with a dreadful feeling. She looks at the pile of emails yet to be attended to on her screen and sigh deeply. Just when she is about to click on the first mail, the telephone rings. On a typical day, it takes her several hours to respond to the emails, and this affects her productivity as the product manager of the company. No thanks to other side distractions like the phone calls, promotional emails and newsletters. “Responding to mails is a job on its own”, she sighed.

The email is an effective communication tool in business when used appropriately. Unlike phone calls, email is convenient and flexible. It can be used personally or within an organization to communicate with individuals or small groups of workers. It also enables professional follow-up messages and reminds meeting attendees of an upcoming event. There is no doubt that email is an important tool in running the day to day activities in an organisation.

Like Lade, managers, business leaders and CEOs receive numerous emails per day. Reading and responding to these emails can be gruesome and draining. In fact, email can hamper your productivity at work if not properly managed. According to a research by McKinsey Global Institute, the research found that email is the second most time-consuming activity for workers, after their specific job role. It is very easy to allow your mail spring out of control, which will end up giving you a messy inbox.

However, there are strategies you can employ to effectively manage your emails. These strategies will also improve your productivity and prevent the frustration that comes with reading and responding to emails.

A phone displaying an email app.

Do not interrupt your work flow by constantly checking your email. Though it may seems as if it’s an effective way to keep your mail box from being messy but it causes interruption and hampers productivity of your main job role. Alerts from incoming messages can distract you and interrupt your work flow. So, do not open your email box until you are ready to receive them. You can do this by scheduling a specific period.

For instance, you can do this before lunch or after work hour. Remember while doing this, you are not allowed to give your attention to other things aside the email. Additionally, you can even place the busy sign in front of your door so you won’t get distracted. You can also assign the period when your creativity power is at the lowest level to check your email. That way, your work won’t have to suffer for it.

Use categories or labels such as clients, work, health, finance, business and projects to organize your email. This helps you to know which to attend to first and which is the least important. Most email programs allow you to create this. To create categories or labels in your Gmail, just click on the “More” button on the left hand side on your inbox and select “Create new label”. An organized email box will help you to locate specific mails when you need them. You do not have to keep unnecessary items in your mail box also. It only adds to the stress of locating a mail and makes the box look messy.

A woman using her laptop.

Yes, you like that newsletter, it is full of contents but newsletters and promotional emails can overwhelm your inbox. Sometimes, they overshadow important messages. You get tired while reading them long before you get to the important messages. And once you get tired, you close the email box and the cycle continues that way. You can unsubscribe from receiving these messages if you no longer have the time to read them or when they are distracting you from the important messages. To make an easy and quick unsubscribe process, just search for the word “unsubscribe” and do justice to the messages that are suffocating your peace.

There is a peaceful feeling that comes with having an all-read box. Once you have an assembly of messages from subscribed emails, friends and families, you do not have to delete or archive them. Just employ the “Mark as Read” button to do its job and wait for the magical feeling.

The simplest way to kill a task is to discharge it. You don’t have to postpone your response because that would require setting another time to do so. Responding to an email as soon as you read them will not only save you the time and stress, it will also keep your inbox under control. The idea is to get the task off your list and accomplish now what you can do now. Don’t pile up important emails for days. If you are unable to respond to the email, reply to the sender stating your reasons and give a deadline.

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Jane Egerton-Idehen

Jane Egerton-Idehen is a telecommunication executive with over 13 years’ experience in the Nigerian, Liberian and Ghanaian telecommunications markets. Jane has a strong passion for promoting girls in STEM and ensuring women in STEM industries remain and grow their careers in that industry. She curates her thoughts around her career journey, experiences and passion in life.