Tips to effective email management

We are in 2020 and email is supposed to be dead, yes, but in real life, we all know that we received more emails everyday.

I worked for an email company for some times, I learned some good tips to be more efficient to manage my emails.

I will explain the key things who helped me to be more productive in managing my inbox.

TL;DR

My email workflow looks like this and since I use it my work with email is much more efficient. This article will try to explain why I like it!

Efficient email workflow

Archive! The goal is inbox 0!

If I have to keep only one feature to manage my inbox this is the archive. Managing email with the read/undread status seems to be a good idea, but we all have tried that and this is a nightmare.

When I received an email, if it requires action from me, I keep it unarchived, so I have a vision of all the emails I have to work on.

If I don’t need to do anything with this mail I archive it.

Inbox only contains emails who require actions

A good day is when I have nothing in my inbox, that the sign I have answers to everything.

Inbox 0, congrats the job is done !
Inbox 0, congrats the job is done!

Send and archive

When you answer to an email you don’t want it in your inbox, so for that you can enable the Send and archive feature in Gmail.
As the name suggest, you will be able to send and archive in 1 click when you reply to a conversation.

This tuto explain how to activate it.

Snooze

Snooze in Gmail

Snooze is an awesome tool and it is implemented by most of the email providers today (at least it is by Gmail).

What does it do, when you Snooze a message you select a date to see the message again in your inbox. Until this date, the message will be in a Snoozed folder and it will pop on your inbox at the specified date.

I use that when an email arrived and I don’t want to do anything with it directly, but I want to be sure to remember this email and I need to take care of it.

Labels / Tags / Folder

Example of a label structure

This one is easy and I am sure you already use it, but keeping everything directly in the inbox is not the most efficient when you have something to search in the future.

Label / Tags / Folder (it depends on your email client) are here for the same things keeping your mails organized in a readable structure.

Keeping your mails organized is like keeping your desk organized, you just work in a place where everything is at the right place and it makes it easier to work.

Filters / Rules

Moving manually your mails to the specific label can be painful, for that I use a lot of filters, most of them are straight forward.

I check if the mail is from a domain (here @npmjs.com) and I apply a label to this mail.

If like me, you use it a lot, your incoming mails will almost all arrive with one or more labels.

After that, your inbox will look like this and you will be able to find your mails in the correct organization.

All these labels are automatically put by filters

How to move from my messy inbox to this workflow.

Starting with this is not easy because your inbox is full of unlabeled/unarchived mails.

What you can do:

  1. Create some labels
  2. Create filters who apply labels on some conversation types (ex: newsletter)
  3. Mass archive all emails in your inbox.
  4. Activate the Send and archive button (How to do it?)

After that, you are ready to use this email management workflow.

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