Americans spend an average of six-point-three hours per day responding to emails, according to a recent study commissioned by tech giant Adobe. That’s a third of our waking lives spent glued to our inboxes, responding to message threads that could just as easily be hashed out over a five-minute conversation in person. Something’s gotta give. In this blog post, we’ve cobbled together the 10 best email hacks to save you time and improve your efficiency. So read on, because that fated inbox zero awaits!
1. Massively unsubscribe.
The first step to better email efficiency is a mass purge of your inbox. Unsubscribe from every single newsletter, promotional email, and non-essential message thread that’s clogging up your space. It’ll feel liberating, we promise. And if you ever need to re-subscribe to something down the line, you can always do so with a few clicks. Your inbox will thank you.
2. Types of emails you find yourself sending on a regular basis.
Think about the types of emails you find yourself sending on a regular basis–whether it’s a weekly update to your team, a monthly report to your boss, or a networking email to someone you met at an industry event. Chances are, you’re sending the same types of emails over and over again. Email templates allow you to write these once and save them for future use, so you don’t have to start from scratch each time. Simply fill in the blanks with the relevant information and hit send.
3. Turn on keyboard shortcuts.
Turning on keyboard shortcuts is one of the quickest ways to start saving time with email. By default, most email programs have keyboard shortcuts turned off–but once you turn them on, you can zip through your inbox with ease. To do this in Gmail, go to Settings > General > Keyboard shortcuts. From there, select “Keyboard shortcuts on.” Now you’re ready to start using keyboard shortcuts! Here are a few of the most essential:
– Compose a new email: c
– Reply to an email: r
– Forward an email: f
– Archive an email: e
– Delete an email: #
4. Use hashtags
Hashtags might be most commonly associated with Twitter, but they can also be a helpful way to organize your email inbox. By adding relevant keywords to the subject lines of your messages, you can make it easier to search for old threads and quickly find the information you need.
5. Enable the “unsend” option.
Enable the “unsend” option in your Gmail settings. We’ve all been there: You hit “send” on an email and then, seconds later, realize you made a grave error. Whether you spot a typo or decide you simply shouldn’t have sent that passive-aggressive message to your boss, Gmail’s “unsend” feature gives you up to 30 seconds to recall an email after hitting send. To enable it, go to Settings > Enable Undo Send. Now, when the inevitable happens, you can click “undo” in the pop-up window that appears and voilà—your email will be unsent.
6. Don’t be afraid of the BCC field
If you’re sending an email to multiple people and don’t want everyone seeing who else is on the thread, use the BCC (blind carbon copy) field. To do this on a desktop computer, just click “BCC” while composing your message. On a mobile device, tap “BCC/CC.”
7. Add out-of-office message
Take advantage of your out-of-office message. If you know you’re going to be away from your desk for more than a day or two, make sure to take advantage of your out-of-office message.
8. Don’t forget to archive.
Archiving emails clears them from your inbox but keeps them searchable should you need to reference them at a later date. To archive an email on Gmail, simply click the small box to the left of the message and then click ‘Archive’ in the top bar. On Outlook, highlight the email and press ‘Ctrl + Shift + A.’ On Apple Mail, select the message and click ‘File’ > ‘Move to Archive.’
9. Use filters.
Use filters to automatically sort emails as they come in. This will save you time by decluttering your inbox and making it easier to find important messages. To set up a filter on Gmail, open an email from the sender you want to filter, click the down arrow next to Reply, and select Filter messages like these.
10. Batch your email responses.
Batching is a great way to save time on lots of different tasks—including email. So set aside a few times throughout the day to check and respond to messages, rather than letting each new email pull you away from whatever else you’re working on. You’ll be more focused when responding this way, and you’ll get through your inbox much faster.
Just like any other important data, your emails should be backed up on a regular basis. That way, if something happens to your account—like it gets hacked or deleted—you won’t lose everything.
By following these simple email hacks, you’ll be able to take control of your inbox—and take back your time. So what are you waiting for? Start hacking!