Email is a powerful tool that assists most businesses today but it can also hinder work performance. Your email has to be set up efficiently or you will waste time, lower your output and miss opportunities.
Here are my tips for how I stay organized and keep my "in box" manageable.
1. On average I receive 500 emails per day and 60% need my attention. Therefore my inbox has several incoming folders which is sorted by people and priority. I currently have ten different inboxes for my incoming mail which allows me to open my email by priority and answer them quickly.
Example: I oversee a sales team that consists of outside sales teams, outside brokers and inside sales teams. Therefore all of my email from these teams is allocated to my Sales inbox. I also have a VIP folder for my managers at TWiT as well as a separate folder for the founder.
2. Time is important to everyone. When I address my inbox I allow myself 30 seconds to answer it, delegate it, or allocate it to another folder because it takes longer than 30 seconds to address.
Example: I have four pending folders if I need more than 30 seconds to address an email. The first is my "to do" folder which means the email requires further action from me. The second is my review folder which means I have reports or other documents to review, the third is my personal folder and the fourth is my executive folder which means I have business to discuss with the executive team.
3. Limit the number of times you check your email each day. It is critical for me to have time to work, think, research and manage my teams which I simply cannot achieve if I am checking email all day long. Therefore I check email in the morning, after lunch and at the end of my workday. Because I am an executive I also check it at night and when I wake up in the morning.
4. Brevity is key to email. Keep your emails short and concise unless you are confirming specific points of a conversation or allocating work. I also follow a three email rule if clarity is an issue. If you are going back and forth by email and a point is unclear then stop emailing by the third email and pick up the phone.