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“3 Ways to Harness Your Email Inbox” is one of the topics I shared this week with a travel agency in California. This subject is part of my training workshop called “10 Golden Rules of Email Etiquette–and How to Harness Your Inbox.”


In fact, I’m writing this blog post as I wait to board my flight home from Los Angeles. I’m confident this is a topic that’s relevant to professionals in every industry, in addition to those in the travel business. I mean, who doesn’t have an overflowing Inbox? And what busy professional isn’t distracted by numerous emails vying for attention throughout a busy work day?

Often the beginning of a New Year is a time to set new goals. Usually those goals involve eating healthier, getting more exercise and being more “present’ instead of on our screens.

And while those are all worthy goals, I also have another goal to suggest to busy business professionals: “How to Harness Your Email Inbox in 2020”.

Give these email management and productivity strategies a test drive for at least one week. I’m confident you’ll be amazed at how much time you will gain back. And, you won’t feel hostage to your Inbox.

  1. First, reduce email volume. Why? Because the more you send, the more you get! Here are some ways to reduce the volume you send and receive.

    • Limit use of “reply all.” Normally, it’s only necessary to reply to the sender who will tabulate everyone’s response and send out a follow up email if necessary.
    • Use fewer CC’s (carbon copy). Before adding a recipient to the CC line, ask yourself if this busy person really needs this information to do their job or stay in the loop?
    • Make a phone call or have a short meeting rather than communicating with an email. This is especially helpful if you need to brainstorm a topic. It’s more efficient with everyone’s time instead of numerous back and forth email threads.
    • Avoid sending coworkers e-clutter (spam) such as cute quotes, stories and cat videos. We all need a little humor in the workplace, but these emails just add bulge to the Inbox.
    • Limit signups for Google alerts and industry newsletters. If you find you don’t have time to read them, unsubscribe. Or, designate a folder they can be sent to automatically. This eliminates adding to your Inbox and allows you to read them at your leisure.
  1. Next, limit how often you check and process emails. If you respond as they come in, it’s a constant distraction and diminishes productivity. Instead, designate blocks of time to check and respond to emails in batches. Below are two options to designate blocks of time.

    • Option #1: Only check and respond to emails three times a day. First, check email about an hour after you arrive to work (Focus on a project or other work the first hour when you’re fresh). Next, read and respond to emails right before lunch, and finally about an hour before you leave for the day. You’ll be able to respond more efficiently by tackling them in three batches.
    • Option #2: For those who need to be on top of emails more often, designate 10-15 minutes each hour to check and respond to emails.
  1. Finally, if you have an audible alert that makes a little ‘ding’ every time an email arrives in your Inbox, go to your settings and turn the alert off. Hearing a little ding is like planning for  constant interruptions every time an email comes in.

Do all these suggestions require self-control? You bet! But I’m confident that if you give these email management and productivity strategies a one-week try, that you can harness your Inbox in 2020 and not be held hostage by it!

You may also like to read Communications Etiquette: Responding to Work Emails, Phone Calls and Texts.

Rachel Wagner is a licensed business etiquette consultant, trainer and speaker. As an authority on etiquette and protocol issues facing today’s global business arena, she shares engaging and interactive content with corporate clients from a variety of industries across the United States. She is the etiquette expert for Fox23 in Tulsa and has been quoted or featured in local and national media outlets including Forbes, Money and the Washington Post.

Note: Rachel’s travel agency client in California is Cruise Experts. They are a full-service travel agency  with superior customer service in addition to the best rates for all your travel needs. They work with customers all over the United States for personalized travel itineraries, including many unique group trips. It’s all turn-key; you just pack and go! Contact them today at 1.888.804.2784.

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