Most people don’t really want to go back to work in the office after a nice relaxing vacation, and for many of them one of the main reasons is the huge backlog of e-mail messages waiting for them. With all of the e-mails coming in every day it’s necessary to make sure you don’t waste time on the ones that aren’t important, but that you do get the most out of the messages containing the information that you need. To save time and get through your inbox in the most efficient way, try these useful tips:
Start using keyword searches. Even if you’ve got 50 e-mails from the same department, they might not all be about the same thing. Do a quick keyword search using a term that you know is likely to be in the messages that you need to see – for example, the word project or meeting. If you’re working on something specific with a group, pick a term that relates to your current task, such as upgrade or rollout. The most timely messages should pop to the top of the list, and the messages about the upcoming birthday potluck will fall to the bottom.
Identify key collaborators. Many e-mail services allow you to set up different groups and assign people to those groups. If you can identify the people whose messages you almost always need to read right away, you can put them in one or two separate groups, and go to those messages first.
Stay away from the crowds. While there might be company-wide e-mails sent out that you do need to read, many people use the “send to all” feature much more often than they need to. You’ll probably be able to immediately see whether you’re one of a hundred others on an e-mail list, and just by looking at the number of people who received the message you’ll get an idea if you’ve been sent the message for no particular reason other than that you’re in someone’s e-mail address book.
Highlight the important information. If you can use your e-mail service to automatically assign a color flag to certain senders or keywords you’ll have an easy way to visually sort through your inbox before you go any further. You’ll be able to quickly spot the red-flagged or urgent messages and handle those first.
Let the system do the sorting. This might be something you need to work with a systems administrator on, but it’s likely that there is a way for you to set up folders and have the e-mail system automatically route messages into those folder, either by keyword topic or by sender. In addition, you can make sure that people who you need to communicate with by e-mail set up their systems to use the same method, and your folder will serve as the go-to spot for all of your e-mails, so that they don’t get lost among the hundreds of others you receive in your main mailbox.