The 5-step guide to managing your email

Home The 5-step guide to managing your email
15 Feb 2021
For HR professionals
It's no surprise that HR professionals receive a whopping number of emails. Focused email management can bring about instant and epic improvements in productivity and attitude; especially as so many of us are now remote working and relying on digital channels more than ever. If you find your inbox is bulging and filling up faster than you can empty it, these tips might be just what you need.
1. Deal with every email in some way immediately
Having a giant list of pending messages in your face all the time isn’t an effective method of organisation. Being visually overwhelmed tends to lead to demotivation and inertia rather than efficiency. While most of us can't reply to every email as it arrives, we CAN make it our goal to deal with every email in some way soon after you see it. There are broadly three ways to do this: If the message requires no action, delete, file or archive as soon as you finish reading it; if the message requires a response that you can write in less than a minute, do it immediately and then delete, file or archive; if it needs a more thoughtful answer, add replying as an action to your 'to do' list and then set it to flag again at the time or on the date you need to tackle it. That way it'll disappear until you need to action it. Google's Inbox app has a native snooze feature that works well, as does Gmail with the help of a couple of add-ons - if you're using Outlook, it's not so easy, but it is possible. A note on blogs and newsletters: Filter them to a designated folder and schedule time to consume this content at your leisure. Alternatively, if you never actually get round to reading them, unsubscribe as they come in.
2. Allocate set times every day to work through your emails
Don’t leave your email open all day. Alerts and beeps from incoming messages can interrupt your workflow and leave you unfocused. Instead, schedule specific blocks of time throughout the day for checking your email. A lot of people like to do it for the first ten minutes of every hour, or at two or three set times in the day. If necessary, turn off your mobile and any other instant messaging channels so your email has your full focus in these designated times. Tim Ferriss in The 4-Hour Work Week explains how he sends an automatic reply to every email: "Due to high workload, I am currently checking and responding to e-mail twice daily at 12:00pm and 4:00pm." 
3. Write your emails in five sentences or less
There's a whole movement dedicated to this philosophy! And a website you can link to at the bottom of each message or in your email signature if you're worried about coming across rude (especially if people have come to expect a more verbose response from you). Five sentences still leaves you plenty of space for a quick top and tail of niceties before getting to the nitty gritty. Skip everything that can be skipped. Nobody likes white noise. Every sentence in your email should be informative and/or contain some sort of call to action. The secret is to think of your email like a messaging service: Ask yourself how you would compose any given email if you had a character limit. (There will be necessary exceptions that need a lengthier explanation, but they should be just that - exceptions.)
4. Use templated responses
We all have a set of emails we send in some variation on a regular basis - making an introduction, declining or accepting an invitation, sending a regular report etc. It is a waste of time and sanity to keep tapping it out in various guises (or rummaging around in the 'Sent' folder looking for one we know we sent recently to cut and paste). There's an easy answer: Almost every email service has some sort of system for creating and using templates. Create a template for all of your recurring messages (you can do this as you go along), then handle all future instances with a two-second click to access the right boilerplate.
5. Consider add-ons and tools that will help you
Email management tools help you get rid of information overload, prioritise messages and organise email workflows in an efficient way. From gamifying your email experience to 'rescheduling' emails to appear in your inbox when they need action, here are some inbox organisation tools you might like to consider.
How can we help you save time?

If you're looking for exceptional new talent in Surrey, we can help. Here's how we can work with your business to support your recruitment as an extension of your HR team. You can call us on 01932 355000 or email

Be notified when we add new articles

Latest vacancies