At one point email was heralded as a modern miracle. The ability to instantly communicate without a phone call had the promise of improving personal effectiveness. Fast forward 20+ years later and for many email represents their largest daily headache. Managers can feel as though email represents a constant obligation and a never-ending to-do list. Fortunately, it doesn't have to be so, using these handy tips:

  • Limit Email Exposure: By checking email only 1-2 times per day, for only 1 hour at a time, you can free up your time for long term projects and more meaningful discussions. Note: If there are people that may need you for an urgent item or a system that needs your attention at sporadic intervals, have them call you or setup a text alert.
  • Don't Use Email as a To-Do List: By using your inbox as a to-do list, new emails will constantly disrupt your workflow. This method will also ensure that you rank items by recency instead of importance, as most people have their email setup to show newest at the top. This will lend undue weight to fake emergencies from your co-workers. Try using a note taking program like Evernote to keep an actual to-do list (or heck, use a piece of paper).
  • Don't Feel Compelled to Respond: If an email is of an "FYI" nature, or is something that you were just CC'd on, avoiding adding your unnecessary 2 cents can save you the drama of an endless email and reply chain thread. Instead, make a note and ask someone in person later if you have a question.

By using these three tips, you can cut down on your attachment to your inbox and free up more time to be productive. Have other great tips? Post them in the comments below!