If you had to take a guess, how many emails do you think are sent every day? One million? Ten million? One hundred million?
You wouldn’t even be close—not by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, every day, people send close to 200 billion—yes, that’s billion with a “b”—emails. That equals about half the day for the average working person—so well over two hours for someone with an eight hour work day. That might explain why we are on our computers and smart devices, it seems, all the time.
Of course, a lot of that email isn’t anything we need to worry about—it’s spam, silly cat memes that your friends have sent you. But a lot of it is essential to getting done what we need to do, which means it’s important to stay on top of email. And with so much of it flying around, that’s hard. That’s why learning really good email management habits is essential not just for peace of mind, but for productivity.
One of the first steps to creating a more mindful email habit is to start with your inbox.
If you’re like many people, your inbox is probably loads and loads of messages that you know you need to get to. So you should start your good habits by whittling it down to just about 20 emails at any one time. That means getting rid of the mess—the stuff you don’t need, won’t ever do, can’t attend to and don’t really care about. Once you do that, maintain that good email hygiene. Then, work on whittling down the things you can answer with some expediency, and file email messages only when necessary.
What else does it take to manage email? This graphic can help.