Lots of ideas from Judith Ohikuare in Refinery29 about how to craft a response that is professional and appropriate, but still communicates that the recipient needs to “get their sh*t together” stat.
Email strategies from major CEOs, including Apple’s Tim Cook, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Ariana Huffington and others. Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh reportedly has a team of 4-5 devoted email handlers, according to this Business Insider piece.
High-level email tactics to keep you on task from one of our former Inbox Exposed interviewees Sarah K. Peck.
5 Ideas for Managing an Unruly Inbox
Based on the first five interviews in our Inbox Exposed Q&A series — featuring smart thinkers sharing email-related tips, ideas, gripes, and more — we’ve rounded up some suggestions to help you up your Gmail game.
- Write an email based on the response you want to get
“If you’re struggling with crafting an email, flip it inside out and write the desired response you want to get. THEN write the email you want to send,” said Sarah K. Peck, the founder of Startup Pregnant. She shared lots of actionable tips in her Q&A and suggested deleting pronouns when crafting an email to ensure you’re communicating clearly.
- Respond to emails during one segment of your day
Journalist Simon Owens sets aside time each morning to respond to all his emails. He’ll monitor his inbox throughout the day, but unless it’s urgent, he’ll only respond the next morning during his designated email segment. “Before I created this system, I would get an email that needed a little bit more time and energy [to respond to] and I would just delay answering — and too much time would pass,” Owens told us in his interview. “So now it’s like pulling off a Band-Aid. I’m getting them all done in one fell swoop.”
- Use Gmail’s Canned Responses feature
Washington Post reporter Sarah Pulliam Bailey said Canned Responses help her stay responsive without eating up tons of time. As a reporter at a major national newspaper, she gets a lot of email traffic. “It’s really about email survival, right, because we’re able to email each other and contact each other with such ease now. I’m trying to find ways to field those emails with respect and acknowledgement,” Bailey said. “But also, my time is valuable, and I can’t spend all day writing very personalized responses to every email I get.”
- Keep work emails off your phone
Sol Orwell, co-founder of examine.com, told us that removing his work inboxes from his phone limits the influence of email in his life. When away from his computer, Orwell isn’t a complete email hermit — he has one inbox on his phone, which he uses to retrieve movie tickets or for social stuff like calendar invites.
“I’m only checking [email] on my computer, so it’s not something that’s omnipresent in my life as it is for a lot of other people,” he explained.
- Don’t leave things hanging in your inbox
B.J. Mendelson, the author of Social Media is Bullshit, gave this tip when explaining how he keeps his inbox under control. “You just sort of have to be ruthless,” Mendelson said. “If I don’t want to do something, I immediately archive it. Or if it’s something I need to act on then I’ll just write it down on a piece of paper and then I index or archive the emails. This way things don’t get crazy. It’s Inbox Zero all the way.”