For millions of workers, Cyber Monday unfolded something like this: you show up to work energized by a few days off and ready to tackle the new week’s obstacles, only to be confronted by an inbox bursting at its seams with unread emails. As the “new message” pings add up, your ability to be productive decreases, until an hour into the day you throw in the towel, let the cascade of messages wash over you, and waste the rest of the day aimlessly browsing for online sales, swearing up and down that Tuesday will be better.
There is a way to fight such an overwhelming feeling, however: by taking control of email instead of letting email control you. Whether your goal is getting to Inbox Zero, implementing an organized folder structure, or only responding to the emails that require immediate attention, creating a plan of action is the best way to fight Cyber Monday despair.
We collected five of our favorite productivity-boosting, efficiency-enhancing strategies to get you on the right track this post-Thanksgiving week:
1) Touch each email once—and then do something with it. If we had a nickel for all the times we’ve read a new message and said, “I’ll come back to that later,” we’d be millionaires. But that’s the point: if we’re all guilty of some form of email procrastination, we all have the ability to avoid it, too. Train your mind to take some kind of action upon receiving each and every email—respond to it, delete it, file it in its appropriate folder, or forward it to the proper contact—and those inbox pings won’t terrify you every time they go off anymore.
2) Pick your most productive email-checking time of day—and stick with it. This step flows out of the one above. If you find yourself tackling emails with more energy first thing in the morning, block that time off on your calendar and focus on the task at hand. If you prefer to ignore email until lunchtime, set up an alert to launch your mail program then. And if the end of the day is better for you to clear your mind and your inbox, go with it. No matter what, carve out your time for dealing with emails—and commit to it.
3) Show your coworkers and associates what concise, relevant, and polite email etiquette looks like. Everyone has that person in their professional circle: the master of vague subject lines, the connoisseur of confusing body copy, the excruciatingly eloquent expert who goes on and on for far longer than necessary. Instead of calling them out, however, be the change you want to see in the email world: employ succinct subject lines, maintain a firm “one subject per email” policy, articulate your intentions clearly using short sentences or bulleted lists, and pay close attention to tone. No one deserves a lecture on email dos and don’ts—leading by example is always the way to go.
4) Put filters and folders to work for you. If you use your email inbox as a to-do list, reading nook, or repository for every message you’ve ever received, you’re probably being the most productive in the world. Most email programs offer countless filter and folder options to customize your workflow: think of organizational rules based on subject, sender, message type, keywords, and other criteria that can shrink the size of your inbox and make quick email search and retrieval exponentially easier.
5) Need more extensive efficiency enhancers? CMIT Solutions can do the trick. The steps outlined above are fairly intuitive and easy to implement. But many businesses, particularly in heavily regulated industries like legal, financial, government, and health care, require far more robust solutions for email safety, storage, and compliance.
At CMIT Solutions, we offer several email services geared specifically for your industry, including cloud-hosted email available anywhere on any device; end-to-end encryption; rapid access and recovery tools; and powerful anti-malware and anti-spam security measures.
Next time your inbox is inundated with unread messages, don’t panic—put the strategies outlined above to work for you so that even the biggest time drain (like Cyber Monday) can be transformed into a productive workday. From short-term efficiency boosts to long-term strategies for business success, CMIT Solutions does it all. Contact us today so we can help technology work for you instead of against you.