I have a question for you – how often do you check your email inbox each day, including on your phone? Not sure? Let’s play a little game. Every time you check your inbox write it down because by the end of the day you will be shocked how many times you were in the habit of checking.
According to a recent McKinsey Global Institute Report, employees spend on average 2.6 hours per day reading and answering emails – losing 12 hours per week (not including the weekend email catch up!)
So how can you hack your email inbox?
Try the 321-Zero Approach
New York Times best-selling author Kevin Kruse studied the habits of successful billionaires, entrepreneurs, and Olympic athletes. He found that they often created a simple system to streamline their approach. Kruse recommends the 321-Zero system.
Schedule 3 times per day to check your email (morning, noon and night) and set your phone timer to 21 minutes as a game to get your inbox to zero. Even if you are challenged in getting through all of your emails in this timeframe, it provides an opportunity to minimise lost time in checking emails as well as keeping you focused.
For many of us, we may be challenged with only checking our email 3 times per day. You can adjust this and do it a bit more often (I know one client who checks 5 times per day). The important thing is to ensure that you are controlling the inbox, not it controlling you.
The 4 Step Inbox Hack
Try this simple process to help you get through your emails faster.
Step 1: Scan
Rather than taking the time to read through and respond to each individual email, start by scanning your inbox. Take a quick look through to get a sense of which ones need responding, not based on who they are from.
Step 2: Delete
Delete emails that have no benefit or are irrelevant. Be ruthless with the goal to eliminate the visual clutter in your inbox so you can focus on the important emails that you do need to action.
Step 3: Sort
Once you have deleted the irrelevant emails, start sorting the remaining emails by the level of importance. You could do this by the sender or by the header. Many email programs have an automatic sort function that will put emails into categories such as primary, social and promotions, use these to also save time.
Step 4: Respond
With your remaining emails now being the important ones, you can focus on responding. Also ensure to let the sender know what the next step should be for them to take (FYI, share/gather information, make a decision, take action or meeting needed).
When you start hacking your inbox you will start noticing how much time you save, rather than checking and rechecking the endless emails that slow you down.
As many of you know I will be speaking at the Future of Leadership Series in August & September this year occurring across Australia and New Zealand. You can get a 10% discount by putting in the code FOLSPEAK when you register.