For quite a while, I was dealing with email by sorting emails in folders, and then addressing the emails in the various folders during various pre-assigned timeslots during the week (research emails, writing emails, admin, contacts & appointments, teaching emails, service emails etc).
I have come to realize that this method has two drawbacks:
- It creates extra work in sorting the emails (I was using some email rules for automatic sorting, but still it required a lot of manual sorting).
- I tended to think I would have more time in the future to address certain things that I had taken on, such as review requests.
My current approach is different, and as follows:
- Reserve dealing with email for the last 1-1.5 hours of the day.
- Deal with each email at a time. Sometimes I go through the emails by date top to bottom, sometimes I sort alphabetically by topic, which helps group topics together.
- Reply immediately. Only if it requires a fair amount of work, save the email on the computer and book a time slot to address the email and carry out the relevant tasks.
- Delete replied emails, get to inbox zero.
- Don’t touch email for the rest of the day. Remove work email from phone.
So far, so good. It seems to avoid the double handling, and helps me say no to more things: if I can’t find a time slot in the near future to actually review a paper (instead of assigning all my service tasks to a few pre-set service time blocks during the week), then it’s better to decline.
How are you dealing with your emails?