In 2019, the average business worker was expected to send and receive 126 emails on average per day--a number that has surely risen in 2020 with the majority of the workforce going full-time remote because of the pandemic.
Coupled with a study that found the average office worker spends 2.5 hours a day reading and responding to an average of 200 emails, most of which aren't relevant to their jobs, it's clear that our inbox can be a huge time waster and productivity zapper.
With many of us not in an office setting and relying mostly on email to set up meetings and provide feedback/updates, how do we efficiently manage our email and optimize productivity while working from home?
I spoke with Aye Moah, productivity expert and co-founder of Boomerang, about her best tips for remote workers to optimize productivity.
1. Don't waste time and emails scheduling meetings.
Did you know on average it takes eight emails to schedule a meeting between the back-and-forth to accommodate ever-changing availability? Moah asserts we need to stop relying on this outdated method and start relying on smart tools to do the hard work by suggesting meeting times based on our availability in real time.
"I've stopped relying on the back-and-forth emails and started relying on a tool to suggest specific times I'm available to someone, let them pick one that works for them without leaving their email," she adds. "It's important that these tools work regardless of what system the other person is using, and that they update my availability in real time as my schedule fills up."
2. Take control of your inbox.
It's easy to fall victim to the inbox trap and lose sight of your to-do list. To avoid this, Moah recommends setting reminders for important meetings, deadlines, and dates--and archiving messages that don't need immediate attention. She says that using email technology will help identify important emails and bring non-urgent emails back to your inbox when they need attention. Lastly, consider using a smart tool to pause your inbox when working on a deadline to prevent any distractions.
"My inbox works for me by keeping track of everything I need to handle. I use email productivity tools that bring me back the messages I need to see when I need to see them," she says. "I'm also a big fan of pausing my inbox and using an auto-responder to let the other person know when they can expect a reply from me."
3. Create a calendar meeting for yourself.
One of the best ways to stay organized and on top of your to-do list is to plan ahead when you can. Moah advises setting up a calendar appointment for yourself that blocks out time at the end of each day to check your email and ensure you are prepared for the next workday. This technique is especially effective if you keep a daily task list where a quick glance will help determine and prioritize everything that needs to get done.
"With a toddler and a newborn at home and a company to help run, it can be easy for things to slip between the cracks. The solution that works for me is to create a 10-minute calendar meeting for myself," says Moah. "I use this time each evening to check my email, set my schedule for the next day, update my task list, and to revisit anything urgent that needs my attention."
Implementing these three golden rules will help you enhance productivity and better manage your time whether you're in a work-from-home funk or simply trying to find ways to better streamline your workday. Bottom line, it's time to stop working at the mercy of our inboxes and calendars, and start implementing tools that make them work for us.