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You’ve probably dug into the preferences for your email to help get it under control. Filtering, labeling and filing is great, but it doesn’t do anything to stop the constant flow of incoming mail. To make that happen, you need to set boundaries, ground rules and procedures and stick to them!

Here are some ideas to get you started:

Use Chat Instead

How many times do colleagues send you email after email, each with a single question or a one word reply? Email isn’t for conversation, chat programs are. Use Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts or Skype for having a conversation without cluttering up your mailbox.

Think Before Responding

Enact the three email rule: after three emails, pick up the phone. This forces your colleague to get to the point quickly. Eventually they’ll get that if they want a quick response to just pick up the phone.

Schedule Email Time

Checking email all day is counter productive. Set time aside in the morning to review your mail and set a time limit. Let colleagues know that you are only available via email at certain times of the day. Once you’ve scheduled time, use an auto-response program to reply during off times with your schedule.

Reply to Emails at Close of Business

Read emails only in the morning and then reply at the end of your day. Any urgent requests can be handled over the phone or in person. This cuts down on email tag and people will wait to respond until the next day when they know you’ll see it. This method also gives you time to compose your email and think before you hit send.

Use Other Means to Communicate

People are more likely to use other forms of communication if they know you’re more likely to respond. Include your LinkedIn, Facebook and other social addresses in your email signature via widgets. Give them your phone number for a faster reply and let colleagues know which method you prefer.

Sometimes email can be a bit overwhelming. Set boundaries and rules to stay productive while still being reachable when needed. Whatever rules you do set, tell your colleagues and stick to them. Getting your email under control will free your time and give you the headspace you need to up your game at work!

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