• Liz Huber

Are you Guilty of the 6 Deadly E-Mail Sins?



I hate to break it to you, but replying to your emails is very far from the most important thing you should be doing in your work day.


This makes it incredibly important to streamline your inbox management process so you can minimise the time spend on reacting to other people’s needs and avoid interruptions in your valuable deep work time.


There are many advanced techniques preached by the Inbox Zero gurus, but I won’t talk about them here.


Instead, I want to talk about the absolute basics. Because we are all guilty about getting them wrong more often than we want to admit.


Here they are, the 6 Deadly E-Mail Sins:

  • Opening and reading your email without replying, deleting or having an effective system to process these emails later on.

  • Checking your emails constantly throughout the day.

  • Using your inbox like a to-do list.

  • Wasting time writing the same replies over and over again.

  • Desperately filtering for important emails in your over-flowing inbox.

  • Failing to unsubscribe from newsletters that are not relevant for you anymore.


What to do instead:

  • Process emails immediately: Whenever you open an email, deal with it instantly. Take care of urgent things right away, delete irrelevant things, archive interesting information in specific folders and use a tool like Boomerang to bounce emails back to your inbox in a few days for follow-up.

  • Schedule dedicated time slots for attacking your inbox and systematically work through all your emails at once. Plan extra time for clearing your inbox before the end of the day or on Fridays. For the rest of the time, turn off email notifications entirely or use a tool like IFTT to send you a text message when you get an email from a specific email address (e.g. your boss, your investor or a high priority client).

  • Separate your to-do list from your inbox to not fall into the urgent vs. important trap. Define your most important tasks pro-actively and prioritise them over random tasks from your inbox.

  • Use templates for email replies that occur more frequently like customer service emails or partnership requests.

  • Use an automatic filtering system like Gmail Tabs (Primary, Social, Promotions, Updates, Forums) or Knowmail to pre-select important emails for you. That way, you can be sure you are not missing out on any important messages and you can always go back later to check your favourite newsletters.

  • Regularly use a tool like Unroll.Me to automatically identify email newsletters and mass-unsubscribe from them.



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