Today, the average office worker gets 121 emails each day.
With that in mind, it’s not hard to see how email can easily get overwhelming. Business owners know exactly how hard it can be to keep up with the constant influx of virtual messages.
Unfortunately, email overwhelm can lead to a decrease in productivity and a marked increase in stress, so finding a way to manage it is critical.
Fortunately, learning better email management habits is as easy as looking at the email tactics, practices, and strategies of some of the world’s top performers.
How 5 Top Performers Manage Email Inboxes
If the average office worker receives 121 emails a day, it’s easy to imagine how many emails a top CEO would receive.
So how do these people deal with the volume of their inboxes? The answers can be surprising.
Here are the top email management tricks from five of the world’s most prominent founders, CEOs, and influencers:
1.) Tim Ferriss
Tim Ferriss is a multi-time bestselling author, world-class startup investor, and one of the most renowned lifestyle gurus in the modern world. As such, he gets thousands of emails a day. Here’s what he does to cope with them:
- Use an Automatic Scheduling Tool.Ferriss uses a tool to schedule automatic email follow-ups and schedule emails to be sent in the future. This allows him to limit hands-on time and automate part of his email process.
- Archive (Almost) Everything.To empty his inbox, Ferriss goes through and stars messages from close family and critical contact (such as accountants and editors, in his case). Then he archives everything else. If this sounds scary, Ferriss recommends going into it with the assumption that “if it’s important, it will come to you a second time.”
- Don’t Treat Email Like a Chat Tool.Instead of using email to carry out long, back-and-forth exchanges, keep emails short, sweet, and precise, and using a collaboration platform or messaging app to handle conversations and other lengthy exchanges.
2.) Tom Patterson
Tom Patterson is the founder of a company that produces undershirts for men. On an average day, he gets about 400 emails and doesn’t have enough time to answer all of them. So, he doesn’t. Here’s what he advises doing, instead:
- Set up an Auto-Responder.At the peak of his email overwhelm, Patterson began using an email auto-responder equipped with a message that told people he would not be checking email between 9 a.m.-5 p.m. This email tactic allowed him to improve his focus and become more impactful. Instead of giving up attempting to communicate with him, people who received his auto-response simply called him if they needed immediate assistance, and worked their problems out on their own if they didn’t.
3.) Neil Patel
Neil Patel is the founder of several top tech companies that work in the SEO and digital marketing space. As a top CEO, it’s safe to assume that Patel probably gets hundreds or thousands of emails a day. Here’s what he does to deal with them:
- Use Gmail Filters and an Unsubscribe Tool.Patel limits his inbox to only the most relevant emails by using Gmail filters to organize emails according to sender and priority level. For everything else, he uses an unsubscribe tool to batch unsubscribe from spam emails and keep his inbox streamlined.
4.) Rand Fishkin
Rand Fishkin is a savvy influencer with both feet in the technology industry. Surprisingly, however, Fishkin’s email fixes are surprisingly un-technological. Here are his top recommendations for dealing with an overcrowded inbox:
- Use a Mobile Phone to Archive and Delete.Fishkin reports that this allows him to enjoy lighter inbox loads when he gets to his laptop, and multi-task by checking and managing email while commuting or doing other things.
- Respond to Most Recent Emails First. For Fishkin, replying to the most recent emails first helps him respond quickly while also leaving the more complex messages at the bottom of his inbox, where he can deal with them as he has time.
5.) Ann Handley
Ann Handley is a bestselling author, renowned copywriter, and prominent CCO. To handle excessive email, Handley recommends the following approaches:
- Batch Check Inboxes. Instead of checking her email compulsively, like so many professionals do, Handley sets certain times throughout the day to check her inbox. This allows her to process email more efficiently and group responses.
- Answer Email in Offline Mode.While Handley batch checks her email, she does it in offline mode. This prevents the cycle of immediate responses from beginning, which can be distracting and confusing.
Inbox Management Tips from the Pros
Email overwhelm is a real problem in the tech world and beyond. Fortunately, these five influencers have developed a series of actionable, unique, easy to apply tricks for managing their emails. From using unsubscribe tools to developing a plan for batch-checking, these tips represent a collection of smart and accessible ways to enjoy a more efficient inbox.
David Molnar is the CEO of Dave’s Computers. He has been an ASCII Group Member since 2014.