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email management

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

Email management is a systematic approach to maximizing the efficiency of email practices and minimizing the negative effects that email handling can have on an individual's productivity and job satisfaction. 

In the workplace, handling email ineffectively can waste a considerable amount of an employee's time and can also hamper other employees and negatively impact the organization as a whole. Email handling can account for more than 30 percent of an employee's work day, perhaps significantly more if handling behaviors are not optimized. 

Tips for effective email management include:

  • Limiting the number of times you process mail in a day. 
  • Limiting the amount of time you dedicate to processing email in a given session. 
  • Only keeping your email program open while you are actively dealing with it. 
  • Checking email only when you are going to process it. 
  • Deleting as many messages as possible immediately.
  • Responding immediately to messages that can be answered very briefly. 
  • Moving messages to be dealt with later to a separate folder. 
  • Responding to only emails that require responses.
  • Limiting recipients to as few individuals as possible. 
  • Keeping responses brief.
  • Deleting all messages that are not archived after a specific amount of time.

Email management is typically categorized as a hard skill -- something that can be taught. However, because it has such a profound effect on employee productivity, email management is also considered a component of important soft skills such as time management, organization and communication.  

See also: inbox zero, email bankruptcy

This was last updated in April 2014

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