Do You Have an Email Routine?

You open your inbox for the first time in the day and there are 98 new messages; they’re from mom and dad, clients, that friend from high school who just found you on Facebook, a few stray spam messages and so on. Even if you spend an average of just 1 minute per message that’ll add up to more than an hour and a half. You just don’t have that much time to spare right now. So what do you do?

  • Look for important messages now and leave the rest for later?
  • Employ The Two Minute Rule; taking care of the ones that matter right now and defer the ones that don’t?
  • Read them all now and reply to them all later?

What’s your routine for checking email?

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  1. Take for example I have to do one big task the first thing in the morning. So I do that task first and then after it is completed (in about 1-2 hours) I check all my emails (50-100) and take action (whether it is replying or anything).

    Only after checking my email do I move on to the next 2 big tasks, but keep checking my emails as they come. Only in the morning do I defer checking them until I have completed the big task.

    The main reason is that emails are pretty to the nature of my work.


    • Ana da Silva on the 4th July

      I too find that leaving emails for later makes my day flow more easily. That first hour of work seems to set the tone for the whole day!

  2. Sam Dalton on the 3rd July

    I have a large number of filters set up to categorise my emails, so they become colour coded and sent to the right folder. I’ll then quickly run through and delete the ones that have no value (e.g. an email from twitter telling me I have a new DM).

    After this I’ll see if there are any I can deal with in 30 seconds. Once that’s done, I’ll read through what’s left and archive the ones that don’t need replying to.

    The email remaining are ones that need actioning by me, either replying to or work produced. These go into the todo list to deal with at some point today or tomorrow.

    • Ana da Silva on the 4th July

      Wow. This seems highly efficient. What email program do you use?

  3. L234579ICan'tCount on the 3rd July

    I wish I had that many e-mails. I get about 2-3 new one’s a day. It’s not a hastle to sort them out, and I have three folders.


    Nothing stays in inbox. Important stuff goes in important, junk goes in junk and gets moved to trash, everything else like those crappy joke e-mails get moved to trash.

  4. Jens P. Berget on the 4th July

    I never check my email when I get to work, I always wait at least one hour. This way I can gather my thoughts, and get a structure of the work I’m going to do during the day.

    When I check my email, I always scan the messages first and delete the junk without reading them. Then, I try to prioritize and answer the emails I think are more important. I never use more than 30 minutes on this task, if I have received a lot of emails, I’ll go back and continue a few hours later.

  5. Luis Quezada on the 4th July

    I read the ones that seem important and leave the rest for when I have time, but I always read them all to insure I’m not missing anything important.

  6. Leslie A Joy on the 5th July

    I use Google Apps and have a detailed filter system-just about everything gets it’s own filter. I have it set up so only filters with new mail in them show up. Barely any mail lands in my actual inbox, and with everything in filters when I go to process my email it allows me to easy identify which stuff is important and which stuff isn’t.

    I also make sure NOT to use my email as my to-do list. Anything that even resembles a task gets moved to my to-do list.

    I try to only check my email a few times a day and use AwayFind for certain clients so I know if something pressing came up.

    The system has been working so much better for me. My email inbox isn’t nearly as overwhelming and I’ve actually been accomplishing more since inplementing it.

  7. Luke Miller on the 5th July

    One of the very few bonuses of a 90 minute commute in and out of London each day for work is the tike t

  8. André Silva on the 31st December

    This post is old, but I would like to share new things I recently adopted:

    – have the smallest number of email accounts you can: i use only 2, work and personal

    – use Gmail Priority Inbox: if you use Gmail, you can mark messages as important or not, and in few time, your really important messages appear in the top. The others, you can read them later, as suggested on this article.

    – unless you use filters, don’t have your email client running, or at least disable new message notifications, in order to don’t disturb your work.

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