One good way to reduce the stress in your daily life and save time for something more enjoyable and/or more important is to cut down on the time you spend on email.
Here is how I have done that over the past year or so.
My regular email service provider here in Sweden did some changes. This meant that I got a lot more spam every day. So I switched to using Gmail instead and these days I receive extremely few spam emails. This does not only save me from a lot of deleting but also makes it easier to quickly get an overview of new emails.
In many cases you don’t have to write a lot in a reply. I try to stick to just writing 1-5 sentences if possible.
Check emails just once a day.
I check my email inbox just once a day. Usually during the hour before dinner because that is not a peak hour for me. I reserve my peak hours each day – the hours when I have the most energy and is able to focus the best – for doing my most important tasks (usually creating and writing).
I understand that checking just once a day may not be possible for everyone. But if you can then it’s a helpful choice and if you just can cut down on the checking a bit then that can help too.
Checking your email too often can, in my experience, create an emotional need where you get hooked on digitally checking the world around you to get validation (as in attention, a feeling that you are important and that you are in the loop). This can lead to sort of compulsive need to check inboxes, Facebook and Twitter 10 times a day. Not a great way to spend your day as stress levels tend to go up and you get too little of what is most important done.
Add a FAQ section or page.
I have a short section of frequently asked questions just before the contact form on this page. By using this I get extremely few of the questions I used to get a few times a day before about for example guest posting and swapping links.
This has saved me quite a bit of time and energy and I highly recommend adding a section or page like this if you have a website to cut down on the emails you get.
Ready to send responses.
It can be useful to save drafts of information that people need from you often in your email program. Then you can just paste that template into a reply and change it a little to suit that reply and what the sender is asking for. I have used this, for example, for information about the advertising options on this site where I included prices and other relevant info.
Think about what questions you are asked a lot via email. If possible add answers to a frequently asked questions section or page. If that is not possible for some questions then type your response and save an additional copy of that reply as a draft in your email program. This will save you time the next time you get that question or a similar one.
I don’t use the delete button that much. But I get a lot of pitches for products or other things that people want me to try or write about and quite a few of them are things I have no interest in. Or it may not be relevant to my readers. So I delete.
I like constructive criticism and even though it may temporarily bruise my ego a bit it can also helpful. But harsh attacks is something I have stopped responding to. Because in my experience during these four years that I have been doing this is that they do not want to talk about things but simply lash out. I have tried sending constructive replies but never get any replies back. So nowadays I read and then delete such things.
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I have an additional suggestion: Do not subscribe to email newsletters that are product/info based. Instead, use the RSS feed on the available blog (sending it to your preferred Reader) or become a fan of their Facebook page so updates feed into your non-actionable areas outside email. If you don’t have time to read it, simply mark it as read and you’re done. This keeps a huge amount of email volume out of the inbox.
Cool interview, It’s good to hear the truth about how bloggers become successful even with all the hardships. I hope it doesn’t take me that long to be able to earn full time money with my blog.
Ultra sensible Henrik as you’re not letting the internet communciation disease infect you. I do most of the same as e-mail won’t rule this male. Switch off the inbox and switch on to the world outside.
I believe the subject line in an e-mail is key. I check my personal e-mails twice a day and if it doesn’t have a sensible subject, i usually trash it.
When I get regular mail I try to handle it once rather than file it for future disposition. I find the same strategy is effective with email. When I open an email I reply immediately if a response is required and I don’t overthink my response – a typo isn’t the end of the world.
Thank you all for adding your own email strategies, really helpful stuff!
These are great strategies, Henrick. I’m using most of them, but an FAQ page is one that I hadn’t given much thought. That’s a great idea! Also, I’ve had to do something a bit different. I completely stopped checking my email first thing in the morning. I designate at least 1 task that I really want to take care of each day. Until that task is done, I don’t check my email at all. I can’t even begin to describe the difference this made in my productivity.
Good tips especially about the delete button. I have to remind myself of that periodically. I do check email once every hour since I do so much with my clients via email
I try to only check email during lunch. Starting the day with email is a sure way to kill productivity.
Thanks for the post