Your Inbox Is Not a Productivity Tool

How often does this happen to you?  You receive an email asking everyone on a large list a request for a specific piece of information.  Moments later another email comes in with a reply that is of no importance to you.

Think of all the email you receive on any given day – how much heads straight to the trash bin?  Or should, for those hoarders in the group.

Email can be a very effective communication tool, but it gets used and abused way too often.  So if your organization is like most, and you’d like to get some control of the Inbox-monster and improve company productivity you might consider some of the following.

Stop the Reply-All Hell – Only use the reply-all function when EVERY person in the group needs to know your message.  Otherwise consider replying only to the sender and CC a few other relevant people.

Thank you is Implied – Its not necessary to send ‘Thank you’ emails when someone has replied and finished a request.  Replying to requests is part of our jobs, and your Thank you email just makes for more work – hitting the delete key yet again.

Filters are your BFF – Filters, otherwise known as rules, are a tremendously valuable tool to sort through your emails and organize them where they need to go.  Subscribe to a newsletter?  Send them automatically to a newsletter folder to keep them out of your inbox.  This gives you clarity in your inbox, and a single place to click when you have the time to catch up. (BFF = best friend forever)

Practice Inbox Zero – Become an Inbox Master by filtering, processing archiving and deleting emails with passionate zeal.  Got a thank you email, hit delete.  Newsletter gets filtered to a folder for later.  Process short requests right away and banish it from your inbox.  Head over to to learn more about this email philosophy.

Outlook is not Your Boss – Change the settings to check for new message every 30-60 minutes or more.  Having email constantly coming in and interrupting your work is a total productivity-killer.  Push the envelop on this and see how far you can go – perhaps to scheduling yourself limited time per day to process email.

We can Re-build It – Office communication that is, can be rebooted using alternative tools that offer better ways of working and communicating in a group.  Here are a few ideas:

  • A group messaging tool, such as Campfire, allows an always-on ‘chatroom’ for everyone on the team to communicate and share information.  The conversations are archived and searchable, including any documents shared – which is really powerful when new people join the team.  They can just search for the documents instead of emailing a request.  Check out how one company used Campfire to not only tame the email beast, but also reduce the frequency of meetings.
  • Web-based project management tools are a great way to work together in a team, with a central source of information fueling the team.  Tools like this are especially useful to teams spread across time zones, or offices.

This is just a short list of ideas – what does your company do to help the flow of communication and improve productivity?

Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top