Five ways to get your email back under control

Does looking at your mobile email app give you anxiety? Is your inbox overflowing with unread messages, eCards you haven’t responded to, and other incomprehensible requests you haven’t had the time to touch?

If yes, your email is out of control. But don’t worry. These 5 effortless strategies will get you on top of your email again–and your life.

1. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize

When you have countless emails clogging up your inbox, it’s incredibly important that you remember which messages are most important for you to check: those from your boss, your team members, upper management, family members and significant others. Whenever you delve into your inbox, look for emails from those people first. It’ll give you peace of mind.

2. Do you what you have to do first. And your email second

Although it’s tempting to jump right into your work day by responding to emails, it turns out that beginning by looking at your inbox is one of the least productive things you can do to start your day. Instead, make a list of what you need to get done–like projects, assignments, or other concrete tasks–and set aside time to complete each one before looking at your inbox again.

3. Don’t get lost in long chains

If there are a million people copied on a chain and everyone seems to be arguing back and forth before reaching a resolution, it will almost definitely be a waste of time to participate. Resist the urge to join the conversation. You’ll just keep losing productivity.

4. Set an example

As both a leader and employee, you can set the tone for your email conversations by using thoughtful language, relevant subject lines, and concise, to-the-point language. Also, as a rule of thumb, try not to copy anyone else that isn’t directly related to the message that you’re sending. You wouldn’t want someone doing the same thing to do.

5. Hit “Reply All” sparingly

When responding to emails, try to remember that your message should go only to the people who will care about your response. Don’t hit “reply all” unless you actually need to reply all. It’ll make both your life and theirs easier.

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