Most of us have a love/hate relationship with our email inboxes.  

For a lot of us it can completely control our workday and level of productivity.

Over the last six months our team at the Tradies Business Show have tried a number of things to help get back control of inboxes. By using some of these strategies we have been able to dramatically increase our productivity by being more present and focused in our work, provide better customer service and value to our podcast listeners and Toolkit members as well as reduce the constant feeling of overwhelm.

We have put together the ten strategies that we found the most useful in maintaining email harmony. You can also check out our recent podcast episode on this topic for more detail.

  1. 3 Sentences or less

    Keep your emails to three sentences or less where possible. If you need more than that try and pick up the phone and go old school to maintain relationships.

  2. Delete, Delegate or Do (3D’s)

    With each email decide what you are going to do with it – just don’t leave it sitting there in your inbox staring back at you blankly.  Either read and delete it, delegate to someone to action or take action yourself with the email. Allocate time in your diary for email action taking.

  3. Unsubscribe emails/newsletters you don’t like/need

    Take some time out and unsubscribe from email lists that you don’t read.  This can make a big difference to the volume of emails coming into your inbox.  Use a program like to help quickly sort and unsubscribe in bulk.

  4. Use folders and labels

    Organise your email with folders and labels to quickly manage and find emails. Create rules for those emails that can skip your inbox for reference later.

  5. Check your email once or twice a day

    Stop constantly checking your email all day – its one of the biggest productivity killers there is. Allocate one or two times a day where you focus on checking and actioning email.  This will allow you to stay focused when working on other tasks and get your projects completed quickly.

  6. Don’t check your email unless you can take action

    Checking your email while standing in line at the supermarket or whilst travelling can make you feel overwhelmed and stressed with the amount of work you need to do when back at your desk and take your attention off your current tasks.  Only check your emails at a time when you can deal with messages as per the ideas above.

  7. Use Gmail/Server Emails.

    To have your emails sync correctly over multiple devices such as your computer or smartphone make sure you are using IMAP or server emails.  Gmail or Google Apps for Work is an example of this.  Ask your IT person for more clarification.

  8. Have an email Gatekeeper (Email Receptionist)

    Set procedures up and have someone check your emails and action accordingly.  Most emails you receive as a business owner don’t need your attention, so have an email gatekeeper ensure you only see emails that you need to see.

  9. Use Google’s Canned Responses

    If you use Gmail/Google Apps for Work check out the featured called Canned Responses in Labs.  This allows you to set up templated emails to save you time when sending emails and keep your messaging consistent. Great tool if you are looking at offloading your email management to a team member or virtual assistant.  Here is a quick video to show you how to set up templated emails in Gmail/Google Apps for Work.

    Canned responses in Gmail settings
    Save time by creating template emails in Gmail
  10. Use your ‘Out of Office’ autoresponder to set expectations

    Let your contacts know when they can expect a reply to set the right expectations from the start.

For example:

Thanks for contacting me.  Due to being on-site most of the day/helping customers with their plumbing needs/building a quality new home I am only checking and responding to e-mail twice daily. If you require urgent assistance (please ensure it is urgent) that cannot wait until I next play email wars, please contact me via phone on ### or call the team on ###.

Thanks for understanding this move to more efficiency and effectiveness. It helps me accomplish more to provide the best possible service to my customers.