Email is one of the most efficient communication mediums available to us, and Gmail is one of the best platforms for sending, receiving, and organizing email. But even with these technological marvels at our fingertips, it’s easy to waste time on Gmail. The average employee spends about 4.1 hours a day checking, reading, and responding to emails, and you can bet there are ways to cut that number down.
Use Gmail Apps
For starters, use a Gmail analytics tool to assess how you currently use email throughout the day. Then, use one of the many Gmail apps, extensions, and add-ons to streamline your productivity. Gmail is a very friendly platform to third-party developers, so there are dozens of tools you can use to improve how you work.
Some of them automate key features of your email, sorting your emails as they come in or shortening the time it takes to respond. Some help you stay organized, allowing you to take notes or make calendar events from your emails. Still others allow you to monitor your email analytics, so you can identify key points of inefficiency and work to address them.
One of the biggest sources of time waste in email management is simply checking your email too often, or allowing notifications to get the best of you; after all, it takes an average of 23 minutes to recover from a distraction. The best way to address this is to allow yourself to disconnect for stretches of time. For example, you might set up an automatic reply between 1 pm and 3 pm, and disconnect from your inbox entirely during those hours as you work on heads-down tasks. You can also work on limiting the number of times you check your phone for email—especially during off hours.
Gmail makes it easy to stay organized, but too many of us neglect these features and end up with a sloppy, poorly managed inbox.
- Labels make it easy for you to identify the categories to which an email belongs, such as being associated with a certain client or project.
- Stars can help you identify priority levels, or indicate emails that still require action.
- Markers can be a secondary indicator or priority, status, or category.
- Read and unread features can help you keep track of what you’ve read and what you haven’t.
There’s no single “right” way to organize your inbox, but you should have all the tools necessary to come up with a method of your own. The trick is to employ it consistently.
Address Inefficient Practices of Others
You aren’t the only person responsible for how much time you spend on email. Sometimes, you spend extra hours of work because of someone else’s irresponsibility. For example, you might have a client who emails you far too frequently, a boss who emails truncated phrases that are hard to understand, or a coworker who never sends emails with subject lines. While you may not always have the power to fix these issues firsthand, you can have a conversation with the offending parties, and hopefully come to a resolution that works for both of you.
These steps won’t take you much time to adopt, but they could literally save you hours of work. Start utilizing them if you want to see the true potential of Gmail as a productive communication tool.
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