You can do better. You deserve better.
I’m always struck by the number of people who complain about the amount of email they receive and how much they despise their inbox — not because their complaints aren’t valid but because my own view couldn’t be more different.
1. If you want to receive less email, send less email
As ridiculously simple as it sounds for such a pervasive problem, I’ve found this to be the golden rule of email management: Send less of it.
This rule first occurred to me during my experience at a previous company where two of the people I worked most closely with ended up leaving the organization within the span of several weeks. They were both highly effective communicators, worked long hours, and as it turned out, sent a lot of email. While they were at the company, our email cadence seemed absolutely normal. It wasn’t until after they left that I realized my inbox traffic had been reduced by roughly 20-30%.
Turns out, it wasn’t just their emails that were generating all of that inbox activity — it was my responses to their emails, the responses of the people who were added to those threads, the responses of the people those people subsequently copied, and so on.
After recognizing this dynamic, I decided to conduct an experiment where I wouldn’t write an email unless absolutely necessary. End result: Materially fewer emails and a far more navigable inbox. I’ve tried to stick to the same rule ever since.
Open up these 6 other tips to avoid getting snowed in by email.