Email · Productivity

What are the best email productivity hacks?

Lucas Jaz

May 30th, 2015

I find myself becoming a slave to my email. Would love to hear good productivity tricks or hacks that other entrepreneurs use to make this not be the case - from foldering to reminders to whatever works.
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Lorenzo Polacco Snr Director, Sales & Advertising Operations at Yahoo!

May 30th, 2015

Simply set aside time during the day during which you simply not look at emails. Then stick to this self imposed rule.

Jordan Malik Bestselling Author | Startup Founder | Podcaster | Entrepreneur | Award-winning Amazon merchant

May 30th, 2015

Gmail canned responses from Gmail labs (you can drop in your commonly-used response with just a couple clicks).

Helpscout (I'm not an affiliate) for managing multiple support email accounts

Boomerang , when you don't have time to get to an email right away, you can have it 're-sent' to you later. Other tricks too (like queue your email/reply to be sent at a specific date/time in the future).

Tri Ton Board Member, Co-Founder at NTS Partners

May 30th, 2015

Check less.  Write short.  Best within 1-2 sentences.  Normally it is time consuming because we check so frequently (distractions) and write in length.  

Karl Schulmeisters CTO ClearRoadmap

May 31st, 2015

Use Microsoft Outlook.

With mail preview you can scan what's important.  What's not their automatic decluttering algorithm will make a pass at sorting out the stuff you were able to deal with by reading the top three lines (different from Junk)

set rules so that if you are on the CC list it gets sorted into a folder you only read when disconnected (like on a flight)

use their "folder cleanup" - which compresses threads on the same topic with lots of cascaded "replies" into a single email that has all of the thread in a single entry

Avoid anything google - not enough tools, too much privacy loss

Joanan Hernandez CEO & Founder at Mollejuo

June 1st, 2015

Personally, what I do is not to reply to e-mails immediately, unless is strictly necessary. And as Lorenzo mentioned, put aside a time of day when you'll deal only with e-mails. Rinse & repeat.

Cheers!

Tyler Goelz

June 1st, 2015

Another great way to become less distracted by email is to turn off push notifications to all your devices. If you know there's emails waiting, they're distracting you. Switch your settings to only load new emails when you actually look at your email app. This is a great productivity hack for anything with push notifications, actually.

Ok, so I'm seeing lots of suggestions, and whether or not you take up the advice of people depends on your use case.

Here's mine: I'm CTO of a startup, and email is an incredibly important tool.  Immediate responses to key players are a must. I also get cold emails as well, which are a (much) lower priority. I get a lot of emails, in any case. Here's what I've settled on:

* My main email reading is on my laptop with MS Outlook.
* I have all my email accounts on the one outlook installation.  The means I get a single reading pane for all emails, a single list of unread emails. This is a HUGE productivity boost for me. A single place to see everything, to reply to everything, and to follow up on everything.
* I configured Outlook to NOT make emails as read automatically unless I manually do so.   This means that my set of unread messages are the emails that I have not seen or need to follow up on.  If I do not need to follow up on an email and I want to keep it, I mark it as read and the message disappears from the unread filter list. Using the unread list as a to-do list eliminates one more list that I need to maintain. that's very important for productivity.
* I use a lot of filters. For very noisy low priority emails I send them to a separate folder where they do not appear in the above-mentioned unread list.
* Emails that I can respond to or follow up immediately, I do so right away. This gets them off the unread list and gets rid of the to-do item.
* Emails that I need to follow up on I keep on the unread list. They are very easy to find, which allows me to follow up on them quickly and not miss any items.
* I configured outlook to delay all my email sending by one minute (after I hit "send", the mail sits on the outbox for a minute before actually going out. This is a must-have feature for me because I respond to all emails quickly and succinctly. Sometimes TOO quickly and succinctly :-)
* I do receive emails on my cellphone, but that's a secondary and emergency-only email client.

I'm not the primary responder to lower priority high-volume emails (ie, support requests), and the above is what works for me when I have a few really important emails coming in a sea of emails (maybe I get ~300 emails a day).

This is what works for me, and it works REALLY well. 

Dan Dascalescu Developer Advocate at Google

May 30th, 2015

Streak is great if you need to track projects, bugs, candidate applications etc.

Tyler Goelz

May 30th, 2015

I recently started using Google Inbox (http://www.google.com/inbox/) which is focused less on folders, archiving, and saving emails but rather treats emails like tasks with "snooze", "reminder", and "done" (done being in place of archive or delete.) It changes the perspective of email to be more geared towards Inbox Zero rather than a large archive of old emails. The interface itself is way more simplified than Google Mail. To some, that are used to bulky, attention drawing email clients, it might seem like an "unfinished mail client," but the simplicity is intentional. -Tyler

Tyler Goelz

May 31st, 2015

I agree with Tri Ton. There is a lot of power in setting expectations for others. If you always respond immediately to things in length, others will be conditioned for it. If you are concise and effective and answer at appropriate times (that you set), they will expect that.