Recent studies found that the average employee spends a third of the workday dealing with email. On average, people receive 110 emails a day and double that in the office. The drain on workers' time is expected to worsen as more people use email to communicate. But you don't have to succumb to the digital deluge. There are many simple steps you can take to manage the bulging inbox.
» Fend off superfluous email.
Don't want to know what your Facebook friend is doing at the moment? Change your notification settings by clicking on the arrow at the top of the screen. (Click on “account settings” and then “notifications” on the far left of the screen. Click on Facebook and uncheck all the little boxes such as “tags you in a photo.”) Unsubscribe from unwanted newsletters and emails from retailers. There is usually an “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of the emails. You can also tell your email system to send certain emails directly to the trash bin. (In Microsoft Outlook, do this by right-clicking on the email, clicking on the junk mail tab and adding the address to “blocked senders list.”)
» Create a filing system for emails you want to keep and read.
One way is to create a folder called Old Email and move your entire inbox into it at the end of each day. You can still access these emails, but they won't distract you each time you open your inbox. Mark Hurst, author of the book “Bit Literacy,” suggests you also create a To Do folder for emails that require action.
» Consider subscribing to an email management service that automatically prioritizes your email.
SaneBox, for example, costs $5 a month and leaves only the emails it thinks you need to see immediately in your inbox, while gathering the remaining emails in another folder. The service will send you an email (yes, another email) with a list of the other emails you have received throughout the day. “The average inbox has only 42 percent that are important and 58 percent that are not important,” said Dmitri Leonov, a vice president at SaneBox.
» Be smart about the emails you send.
Use the phone to conduct business that requires a lot of back-and-forth discussion. Remember, the more emails you send, the more you receive.