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Show your mailbox who's boss

We all send out a lot of emails. Too many, in fact. Start limiting your email traffic to what matters most, and take action on the emails that do come through!

Newsflash: we all send out a lot of emails. So many in fact, that the typical knowledge worker spends 28% of their time on email. In 2016, you'll receive 91 business mails per day on average and send out about 40 yourself. If you're a manager, that number increases by a lot.

Does anybody really want that? And yet, we keep on bombarding each other's inbox with all the well-known, annoying consequences: a bloated, cluttered inbox. A steady stream of mails interrupting your work. And worst of all, less time for important tasks.

It's high time you do something about that. This blog shows you how to limit your email traffic to only the important stuff, and how to subsequently take action on the emails that do come through.

Step 1: Receive less emails

"Well, that's easier said than done!" But for a large part, a cleaner, more workable mailbox starts with you. Here's where you come in:


The first one's really easy: don't bother with all the offers, newsletters and social media updates that you almost never read anyway. The internet has many tools on display that teach themselves what kind of emails you rarely open, or even do the unsubscribing for you in a couple of clicks.

Get rid of CC culture

The higher up you are, the more you become the secondary recipient of just about any email. But you really don't need to be in the loop about everything. Start ditching emails that have you in the CC field and, if you can, set an example by getting rid of the CC culture.

Look for internal alternatives

Sending mailsIn the age of of social media, groupware and instant messaging, it makes no sense to single-mindedly bash the Fwd button, hoping your message arrives. Pick one of the many alternatives for internal use, like a work-friendly chat platform. Those tend to be easily searchable too.

Centralise your information

Let everyone with the right credentials have access to one central database. That way you don't have to keep bugging each other looking for customer details, prices or attachments. And don't be startled if such a database saves you time - up to 35%!

Step 2: Process your emails right away

Now that the dust has settled, you should mostly be receiving just the important stuff. Maybe that still amounts to more emails than you would want. But even then, a simple system can save you tons of time:

The 2-minute rule

A little rule from productivity guru David Allen: if reading and responding to an email can be done in less than 2 minutes, then do it right away, even if its priority is low. By first labeling it and putting it on a to-do list, you lose precious time.

The 2-to-3-times-a-day rule

Overflowing mailbox

It costs your brain up to 20 minutes to reboot after some notification has interrupted your working rhythm. Try to avoid that by only checking your inbox on predetermined moments. Whoever it is that desperately needs you, they can make use of the alternative forms of communication to reach you.

Re-read emails as little as possible

Every email you dig up to re-read is one too many. Try setting up a structure so you don't need to anymore: save senders and recipients directly to your CRM and attach the necessary emails too, so you and your colleagues can always access the correct information without having to rummage through the mail archive.

Turn those emails into actions

Form a steady habit of turning every received email into an action. With the right software, you can go ahead and put a task or a meeting in your own agenda or somebody else's. Do you have little use for a specific customer question? Then turn it into an internal ticket for a more qualified co-worker.

Discover Teamleader

Teamleader handily integrates with Outlook and Gmail. That means you can go through your daily inbox quickly and easily, create tasks, meetings and tickets from your emails and put all the important information directly in your CRM. Effective and cost-efficient. Teamleader combines CRM with project management, quotations, invoicing and more in one convenient online tool. Try it now for 14 days!

PS: Think you could put some extra time to good use? Then you'll enjoy our ebook on better time management.

Download the ebook

About the author

Robin Van Cleemput

Writing something about a copywriter, always tricky… If it’s bad, he’ll hate you for it. If it’s good, he’ll hate you for it because he didn’t write it himself. Although Robin isn’t quite the hateful type, on the contrary. His sharp pen makes sure you are engulfed with – hopefully positive - words our customers have to say about us. He can turn a shopping list into a genuine page turner!

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