10 Techies Share Email Management Tips
About a month ago we started the series - '10 Tech Influencers Reveal How They Manage Their Email' where we reveal effective tips and tricks used by tech influencers in managing their inbox on a daily basis.
These experts get a ton of emails every day and have devised their own strategies to deal with it. As there is no single best way to manage your email, pick your favorite tips and start combating your incoming emails efficiently.
Brian Balfour is a serial entrepreneur and has founded multiple VC backed companies. He is an expert in user growth and is currently the VP of Growth at Hubspot where he works on new products like Sidekick.
I'm a Gmail user (both personal and work) on web and mobile (iOS). Here are some tips I use:
- I tend to batch all email, twice a day. Usually between 11 and 12 and again at the end of the day around 5pm or 6pm.
- I do not try to respond to emails on mobile. I only check on mobile to make sure there isn't anything important that needs my immediate attention.
- I try really hard not to check email on my phone when I first wake up. I find it causes me more stress than anything.
- When I am in email mode I try to take action immediately. Either respond, archive, or schedule to be dealt with later using Sidekick. Generally try to get Inbox zero. Only emails I leave sitting in my inbox are ones that I know I need to deal with in the next 24 - 48 hours, and can't respond to in the moment (either due to time or needing to complete something else first).
- Ones that require really long thoughtful responses I typically do on weekend mornings when I have the time to put the appropriate effort into them.
- Any emails I write that are longer than a sentence or two I will format with heading and bullet points. This makes me think and communicate in a more structured way. It also makes it easier for a person to respond to specific point.
Things I Need To Find Later
- I'm a heavy user of search in email which is why I exclusively use Gmail on web and mobile. Other email clients have terrible search in my opinion.
- Things I know that I will want to find a lot later I will use tags/folders. But this isn't very often.
- I also use Sidekick to make sure I have the person's work history and social information right along side the email. This saves me from going out and searching on Twitter/LinkedIn/Google which wastes a lot of time.
Chris is a highly sought after speaker and New York Times best selling author of eight books and counting. Forbes listed him as one of the Must Follow Marketing Minds of 2014 and his website as one of the 100 best websites for entrepreneurs.
I read emails when I've got a moment between more important tasks and do my best to answer fast, simply, and with something concise. Help where I can.
I allot only an hour or so a day to replying, unless I can do it quickly. That way, I don't draw anything out too long and can be helpful without really taking much time.
Simply stated, Ryan is a product guy. His passion for startups, product design and personal growth can be seen from the articles he has written (over 150 of them). He then founded Product Hunt which became a go to place for entrepreneurs, VC and product lovers all over the world in a matter of few months.
You can tweet him @rrhoover.
I receive several emails a day from people asking the same question. Instead of retyping my response multiple times, I use text snippets and hot keys using Streak to reply quickly. While a useful productivity hack it's also important not to sound like a robot so I typically add a bit of personalization to each email.
Nir Eyal writes, consults, and teaches about the intersection of psychology, technology, and business. He is the author of the bestselling book, Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products. Nir founded two tech companies since 2003 and has taught at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford.
Nir is also an advisor to several Bay Area start-ups , venture capitalists, and incubators. You can tweet him @nireyal.
I make sure to control email as opposed to letting email controlling me. For one, I schedule time to check email instead of letting it be a task that is done all day long. "Check emails" has a place on my calendar every day and for the most part I stick to that time.
Another trick I use is to have templates for frequent responses. Finally, in response to the nightmare that is scheduling a meeting, I put my calendar online for anyone who wants to book time with me, see: nirandfar.com/schedule
I love to live in the world of inbox zero. I also don't want to treat email correspondence like instant messaging, so I use Boomerang to deliver messages 2 days after I click the send button. That way, I know it's getting delivered, but I also know it's not giving the impression we are starting an email conversation. VERY helpful!
Chad is the VP of Audience and Co-founder of Relevance.com. He was the member of a Forbes Top 100 list, named as top five content marketing thought leader by Onalytica and a top 20 CMO influencer by Nice. He also authored "51 Things Your Mother Taught You about Inbound Marketing."
You can tweet him @ChadPollitt.
A wise man once told me that email is the Devil. He was right. If not properly organized it can ruin your day. I'm an inbox-zero type of guy and blocking and tackling email is a must if I want to get anything done.
I use two different email accounts - one for business and one for personal. That automatically organizes higher priority emails for me. In my business account I use two three folders - inbox, leads, out of office. Since I send out a daily and weekly newsletter I can get hundreds of out of office replies. I don't want them gumming up my inbox. I can also get up to 100 lead notifications in a day. I don't want them gumming up my inbox either.
What does go in my inbox is all prioritized. If it requires a reply or action I keep it marked unread and flagged until it's complete. Everything else is immediately trashed. If it's super important I'll actually drag the email to my desktop to address ASAP. My process isn't rocket science, but it's my process and it helps me tame the Devil known as email.
Ryan Holiday is a media strategist and prominent writer on strategy and business. He served as director of marketing at American Apparel for many years, where his campaigns have been used as case studies by Twitter, YouTube, and Google and written about in AdAge, the New York Times, and Fast Company.
His first book, Trust Me I'm Lying was a debut bestseller and is taught in colleges around the world. He is the author of two other books and is now published in 16 languages.
You can tweet him @RyanHoliday.
I have a very simple system:
I do all my important things early in the day (or most of them) like writing. Only then do I open my email. In fact, I have a new rule: I don't even look to see how many emails I have or do anything related to email, until I've done one thing in the morning—like go for a run, cook breakfast, shower, etc (I work from home you know).
Anyway, the second part of the system is this: I answer emails as they come in, as briefly as possible. If they don't require urgent response, I "star" them in Gmail and then answer them later, while I am offline—like on a flight. In fact, that's how I am writing this response to you right now. It keeps my inbox at roughly zero at all times. Oh yeah, and I don't respond to anything I don't feel like responding to and I 'accidentally' lose or delete things I think will make me upset.
Avoid checking email until the end of the day. You can micromanage your email with tags and systems all day long. But the best way to increase your email productivity is to avoid checking it until the end of the day. Not only will you blast through your inbox faster, but you'll get more done during the day.I don't check my email until 4pm and it works great.
Frederik is the Director of Growth at Jawbone. He is an expert in user growth, have worked at Swipp and was also the initial team member of an Austrian telecommunication company Jajah, spearheading its marketing and public relations efforts from its inception in 2005 to its acquisition in 2009.
You can tweet him @netzkobold.
Frankly, I don't think I have cracked the code on how to deal with emails efficiently, I find it majorly inefficient and it should be reworked from the ground up.
But here's what I do to try to manage 60+ emails per day:
I try not to read/check emails while working on an important task (choosing the time to check emails rather than being interrupted and thrown out of your flow all the time).
When I go through unread emails (on my phone or desktop) I archive everything right away that doesn't need my response. Emails that require little effort to resolve I try to reply to right away. An email that does need my response and I can not answer within 5 minutes gets flagged and I create a task for it in Any.do.
I do maintain 10 folders to find emails more easily later (search isn't always the best way to find older emails). One of the folders is dedicated to cold emails - with those I usually briefly check their offering and have to dismiss without response in most cases, some I respond to with "I'm not interested/not right topic/timing" and some I get back to request further information/schedule a meeting, it really depends on if they can get their point across in a sentence or two and if it is relevant to my work at the time.
I use a bunch of Gmail filters as well to file/archive emails automatically (like automated weekly reports etc). One more, using "unsubscribe" religiously, whatever newsletter I haven't bothered to read 3 times in a row, I didn't sign up for or is not of interest needs to be unsubscribed from. ?
Peep is a Conversion Optimization junkie and the founder of Markitekt - a unique data driven agency that helps companies grow their online sales and leads. He is popular trainer and face behind ConversionXL which is regarded as one of the best blogs for Conversion Optimization.
You can tweet him @peeplaja.
I prioritize ruthlessly. I use extensive color coding and filtering in Gmail. Non-important emails just don't get a reply. The fact that someone sends me an email does not oblige me to respond - or other people would end up running my life.
Emails that do deserve / need a reply - I typically reply ASAP, short and sweet, to the point. Emails that need a longer reply / time to think, I star in Gmail, and get back to them at a dedicated point.