3 ways to reduce email friction

In this post I would like to share just three very practical ideas that can make dealing with email much easier and effective.

Filtering

Processing email on regular basis can be a daunting task especially if you receive dozens of email per hour. One of the easier ways of reducing the amount of email in your inbox, aside from changing your email address and not telling anyone, is using filters.

Setting up a filter is very easy. Grab the message you want to filter and look for the message options by either right clik or a selecting the actions from the panel on top of your message window. Next define your criteria like sender, subject, whether your address is in to: field or cc:. This way you will determine which emails get filter out and which not. Lastly decide on the action, whether the message should be deleted straight away, archived or moved to specific folder.

Why it’s worth considering? It takes away time and effort necessary for processing messages which are non-actionalbe or non critical updates. Here is an example. If you subscribe to a number of newsletters that you want to read occasionally, set up ea filter to move those emails from the inbox to a specific folder. This way you don’t have to manage them manually and you can focus on more important emails. Thing to remember is to actually review that folder otherwise it’s becomes this “dust gathering” folder that you avoid. If that’s the case better unsubscribe from those newsletters completely.

Subject line

Very often we need to communicate a single sentence or a brief update that takes one line of text. Best way to pass it is to type it into the subject box. This way the recipient  knows straight away what’s is expected and can skip opening the message.
Instead writing an email which has a subject line “Monthly report” and inside the a one liner ” the report is ready” try putting “monthly report is ready” into the subject line. It’s clear, simple and gets to the point.
One thing to remember when using this method is to be aware of spam filers. Some can pick up messages without text in the body and flag them as spam. If you use auto append signature to emails this will sort the issue.

Keyboard

Throughout the day everyone of us makes a hundred of mouse clicks and moves to find the right option, to change a font, to create a new message or a task. Very often going through these steps can be completely avoided simply by learning keyboard shortcut. Here is a challenge for you. Over then next 3-5 days try to record the functions you’ve have used the most when working inside your email client. Once you know find out if you can use them through a single combination of keys rather the mouse.

You may think that the savings are just minimal and that it’s not worth the hassle but if you compound the savings over a longer period of time you might be quite surprised how much you’re actually saving.

to start with here are some basic keyboar shortcust for MS Outlook and Gmail

MS Outlook keyboard shortcuts:

  • CTRL+N – New item
  • CTRL+SHIFT+A – Appointment
  • CTRL+SHIFT+C – Contact
  • CTRL+SHIFT+M – Message
  • CTRL+SHIFT+J – Journal entry
  • CTRL+SHIFT+N – Note
  • CTRL+SHIFT+K – Task
  • ALT + S – Send
  • CTRL+R – Reply
  • CTRL+F – Forward

Gmail keyboard shortcuts:

  • c  – Compose
  • /  – Search
  • k  – Move to newer conversation
  • j  – Move to older conversation
  • p – Previous message
  • o  or <Enter>  – Open
  • e  – Archive
  • r  – Reply
  • a  – Reply all
  • f  – Forward
  • #  – Delete

Do you have your favorite methods for dealing with email? If so please share them in the comments section.

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