Why I Actually Like Email (and How You Can Too!)
Would you believe me if I told you that I actually like email? I will be the first to admit that I didn’t always feel this way, but over the last couple of years, I have grown to like it. Like many others, email has been the primary means of communication in my professional life, and while that can often riddle people with stress, there are a few things that have made going through my inbox an enjoyable experience for me.
Preferring Email As a Means of Communication
One of the main reasons I like email is because I generally enjoy it as a means of communication. Out of email, phone, text, and DM, I think email has become my favorite. Here’s why:
1. You don’t have to get to it right away. You can (and unfortunately, in many professions you actually kind of have to). But generally outside of work (i.e. your response time is not being tracked), email is less immediate than a phone call or sometimes even a text. You can even set autoresponders if you are out of the office, have unique work hours, or anticipate that you won’t be able to get to your email for a longer period of time than normal. Even if you do have to respond to your messages fairly quickly, you can still spend a bit of time reflecting on what you want to say and crafting your response, which is not something that you would easily be able to do if someone called you directly.
2. You can mark an email as unread. I have been waiting for years for the ability to be able to do this with text (I never quite understood why more people haven’t been wanting this feature in text, but I digress . . . ), but since there isn’t a way to do that yet, I have been taking advantage of doing it with email. This is a great way for me to be able to skim the content of a message to get an idea of what it is about, but then mark it as unread so that I can actually attend to it later.
3. It’s efficient. To a degree. While it is not often as efficient as calling someone directly or even just sending them a text, in many ways it can eliminate a lot of the fluff. Since email is less conversational than a phone call or a face-to-face conversation, even with a couple of pleasantries, it’s easier to get to the point in your first message instead of waiting for the initial back-and-forth to run its course.
Enjoying What The Email Represents
If your email is connected to a job that you don’t like, nothing is going to get you to like going through communication related to your job. If you are passionate about what you do and love your work, the thought of responding to an email or seeing mail notifications will feel a lot different than if you don’t. That said, if you are more stressed out by the junk mail and promotions you receive than by the work associated with your inbox, unsubscribe from them! An easy way to both see what you are subscribed to and unsubscribe from several mailing lists at a time, is Unroll.me. It’s game changing (and free!).
My inbox hardly ever has zero emails physically in it. BUT, all my emails can fit on one page and I never have an unread notification badge on my email app before I go to bed. As far as the messages that I will keep in my inbox, they are usually in reference to items that I am keeping an eye on. For example, there might be a conversation with a vendor I am awaiting a response on, a discount code I want to use before it expires, or a notification of something that I want to read in more detail later. Once that correspondence has reached a conclusion or the coupon has expired, I file that message away.
I can’t imagine liking my email if my inbox had 3,975 unread emails sitting in it. If you are finding yourself in this situation and desperately want to get out, I find it most helpful to keep the most critical emails in your inbox and put all the others in a folder to go through later. Doing that not only cleans up your main inbox, but it will also give you peace of mind that you haven’t actually deleted anything. I did this once when I was overwhelmed by my inbox and I eventually got through everything in the folder of archived emails. Now, every message I have ever held on to is appropriately filed or deleted. Which brings me to my next point . . .
Having an Organization System
One way to maintain inbox 0, is by keeping everything organized. Working on a project and don’t want to delete all those messages? Make a folder for that specific project and save them there. Have emails with high praise that would be great to have when it comes time for a performance review? Make a folder for those. By making folders to organize your emails, you can clear up your inbox and reserve it for messages that need immediate attention while still holding on to ones that you want to keep for future reference.
Using It As an All-In-One Productivity Tool
Many email clients, like Gmail or Outlook, offer the ability to link a calendar to your email where you can schedule events and meetings. Some even have features like notes and to-do lists. Leveraging these tools (if your email client allows) and how they are interconnected can be a great way to help you stay organized and on top of all your messages. One of my favorite productivity tools connected with my email is Google Keep, which allows me to keep to-do lists and important notes in the form of digital post-it notes alongside my email.
Making Your Inbox Aesthetically Pleasing
When my inbox is aesthetically pleasing, I, personally, am more likely to spend time looking at it. If you can, try changing up your theme, the color of your inbox, or add flags as a way to code or create a prioritization system for your messages. I found that doing this made my inbox look a lot less intimidating and made it easier for me to see what I needed to address first and what could wait for tomorrow.
While I know that email is not going to be everyone’s favorite means of communication, I hope that this has helped you figure out ways that you can enjoy it even just a little bit more!
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