Like most people I have a love-hate relationship with my email inbox. Over the years I’ve tried all kinds of tricks and tools to try to handle my inbox more efficiently. What I’ve found is that those tricks and tools only work if I also use a time-blocking strategy to decide to clear my inbox (something I only started doing after reading Cal Newport’s Deep Work for the second time). Once I have my time block in place then the following tools help me work through my inbox in a relatively efficient manner.
Message Templates/ Canned Responses
Outlook users can create canned responses to use to answer frequently asked questions in your inbox. Here’s a good video overview of how to create and use canned responses in Outlook.
Not every email needs an immediate response. Not every email needs to be stored in your primary inbox where it clutters and distracts from the task at hand. Create email filters to organize and prioritize the messages landing in your inbox. This video and this video will show you show how to create filters in Gmail and other Google Workspace email accounts. Outlook users, this video is a good place for you to start to learn about using filters and folders.
Schedule Outgoing Email
Let’s say it’s Thursday evening and you’re working on a list of reminders to send to students and or parents for the following week. If you send it that evening, you’ll be getting replies all weekend which you can either reply to or ignore until Monday morning. There’s a better option. That option is to schedule those reminder emails to not be sent until Sunday night or Monday morning. Here’s my video about how to do that.
Outlook users can also schedule emails to be sent at a later date. Here’s a great tutorial on how to do that.