Email is one of the web’s oldest forms of communication, and for that reason suffers from something of an image problem. It’s seen as a waste of time, and something people turn to far more readily than traditional communication.

In reality, it can work brilliantly for both business and your personal life and make you far more productiveif you follow these tips.

Only process it once per day

For most people, this will seem an entirely foreign concept and one that, at first glance, sounds impossible.

But what if you did treat your email like you treat regular mail? Try it – set aside a specific time of each day to work through your email and leave the rest until tomorrow.

Unsubscribe immediately from anything you don’t want

Fed up of receiving the same unsolicited emails from the same senders?

There’s a solution to that – make sure you click the ‘unsubscribe’ link immediately on any emails you don’t want. Your inbox will quickly declutter as a result and you’ll far more easily reach Inbox Zero.

Don’t let emails fester in your inbox

A lot of people use the one-minute rule with email; if it takes a minute to reply – do so. Don’t leave messages in your box unattended for too long if they can be dealt with there and then.

You know why? You’ll never get round to replying to them!

Set yourself an inbox time limit

This might feel as alien as the idea of only dealing with email once per day, but it’s a great tactic if you want to stop email stealing so much of your time and become more productive.

While working on email, set yourself a time limit for staying within that inbox. It could be ten minutes, thirty seconds or an hour – whatever you need. Just don’t go beyond it.

Use folders to categorise your emails

Modern email clients offer a huge variety of ways to organise email, but folders remain one of the most common methods, because they’re so effective.

If you don’t already use folders to categorise emails, it’s time to do so. Pick you categories wisely, but use them in a way that will make your once-daily trip to your inbox as simple to navigate as possible.

Use template features

If your email client offers the ability to create template emails where you simply click a couple of buttons and watch as the content is pre-filled for you – use them.

Think about how many times you send emails each week which are virtually carbon copies of one another. Turn them into templates, and then you’ll only need to tweak specific elements for each send – it’s a huge time saver.

Remember you don’t need to reply to every email

This is the most important rule of the lot, but one we all fail to follow now and again.

You don’t have to respond to every email, no matter how urgent it appears or how many people have already responded to it (if it’s a group message).

Before you hit the ‘reply’ button, ask yourself honestly: what would happen if you didn’t reply? More often than not, the answer isn’t anything to be worried about.

Wrapping up

Email will remain a brilliant form of communication for some time to come, but only if we all start to abide by the vital rules above. It’ll make your working life much more pleasurable and help you strive for constant improvement – we promise!