Even as video conferencing becomes more widespread, emails still and will continue to be an essential part of professional communication for the foreseeable future. However, going through emails can be a tedious and time-consuming process, which means inbox management is key.

According to a McKinsey report, 28% of the average professional’s workday is spent reading emails. For those who work full-time, this translates to 2.6 hours spent on reading and responding to emails. Email plays a crucial part in both internal and external communication and is a powerful lead generation tool. Nonetheless, spending that much time on them each can have a significant effect on productivity.

For instance, an organization with ten employees can lose 26 hours each day responding to emails. Fortunately, you can use inbox management strategies to reduce the amount of time you spend on emails without missing any important ones.

1. Be Selective About Who You Give Your Email To

If you find yourself taking too long on emails, the primary problem is likely the number of emails you receive. In total, there are 193.3 billion emails sent each day, and 108.7 billion are for business accounts. This translates to an inbox with 121 new emails for the average person. Going through all those emails, even without responding, can take a considerable amount of time.

What’s worse is that a significant portion of those emails is not important. As such, the first step in decluttering your inbox and bringing it down to zero is sharing your email only when necessary and in relation to its primary purpose. Also, go through your subscriptions and unsubscribe from any that you often receive but never read.

2. Create a Schedule for Email

In the pursuit of keeping the inbox at zero, many people have taken an effective yet risky approach to inbox management. They frequently check their email and respond to any new emails. Though this may help you achieve ‘inbox zero,’ it will come at a high cost to your productivity.

First, the constant shifting between work and emails will affect your concentration on your primary role. Also, you may spend more time than you wanted when you find more emails than you anticipated.

There’s a simple way to achieve ‘inbox zero’ without compromising your productivity. This is by developing an email schedule, giving you more control over how much time you dedicate to emails. In doing so, you will control interruptions and still have enough time to go through your emails. If possible, mute email notifications to ensure they only go through your mind at the scheduled time.

3. Do Not Overthink Your Response

The objective of getting your inbox to zero is not about having zero unread emails but also ensuring the necessary response has been issued. Often, responding to emails is the biggest challenge most people face with responding to emails. Of course, when you receive an important email, you want to make sure that your response will draw the desired action from the recipient.

So, you tell yourself that you will respond to it later after giving it some thought. This approach leaves you with pending emails to respond to, in addition to the new ones. What’s worse, it also increases the chances of forgetting to respond.

Taking your time to respond does not guarantee that you will come up with the best response. Stop overthinking when you receive important emails. Go through them carefully, compose yourself, and draft a response immediately.

4. Make Use of Existing Email Tools

Other than allowing you to read and respond to emails, providers such as Google, Outlook, and Yahoo offer tools to improve your experience. With Gmail, you have access to Gmail Labs, an assortment of tools that you can enable and disable as you desire. With these, you can create canned responses that make it easier and save you time when responding to long emails. There are also add-ons that allow you to connect your Gmail to your RingCentral phone system, along with plenty of other useful features.

For Outlook users, one of the main features you get is the ability to sync it with accounts from different platforms. By integrating it with iPhone or Google calendars, you can access all your events from one central point. Similar to Gmail, Outlook also offers a canned response feature to make generic responses easier. You can also set up a distribution list that allows you to send messages to clients or your team hassle-free.

All the email providers have unique tools that can help you manage emails. These features require manual activation. As such, do your research on what features your provider offers and begin using them.

5. Make Use of the Search Function

In many cases, even if you have hundreds of unopened emails, you’re likely interested in a few specific ones. Instead of scrolling down looking for such emails, make your work easier by using the search function. Type in the sender’s email address, and a list of the email they’ve sent you will appear.

Even if you do not remember the sender’s email, you can use other keywords to search or even attachments such as JPEG, Zip, PDF, etc. By going searching directly for the emails you want, you will save a lot of time.

6. Do Some Tidying Up

If you are one of the people who have thousands of unopened emails, getting to zero will not be easy, but it’s achievable. Along with unsubscribing to unnecessary emails, you will also have to do some tidying up. For emails that are older than thirty days, there are high chances that you won’t respond, or they’re not important. Delete such emails to reduce the backlog.

Get Help With Inbox Management

Even with the best habits, you will still need to dedicate a significant amount of time to emails. However, that does not have to be the case. There are platforms that you can use to help manage your emails, giving you more time to handle other core business objectives.

Interseller is an email platform that’s especially suitable for recruiting professionals. While you are busy handling other tasks, the platform will be handling your email automation based on the parameters you set. Request a demo today to find out how Interseller can reduce your workload and increase your productivity.