Email is an extremely useful communication tool in business. Less intrusive than a phone call, email is convenient and fast. It empowers entrepreneurs to run their businesses from just about anywhere.

You can communicate with clients and customers, check in with employees and set up important meetings from your office or on the go.

But when used inappropriately, email can hinder productivity. More than one-quarter of a worker’s day on average is spent answering and reading emails, according to research released in 2012 by the McKinsey Global Institute. Its survey found that email is the second-most time-consuming activity for workers, next to “role-specific tasks.”

Business leaders, CEOs and managers often receive hundreds, if not thousands, of emails a day. Reading and responding to every message can become a drain on time and energy.

1. Consider the true importance of email.

Let me put this another way: Someday, many, many years from now, when your friends and colleagues are gathered at your memorial service, do you think they’ll be saying what a great leader you were–because you always responded promptly to their emails?

It may sound obvious, but I’ve found that thinking about it this way helps me get over the nagging guilt that besets me if I don’t read and respond to emails in a timely manner, or even read non-urgent ones at all. It’s taken me a long time to accept that this is not rudeness; it’s using my limited time in a more effective way.

2. Setup the Canned Responses

Do you receive several emails that are repetitive in nature and you find it hard to reply to each one of them? If yes, then you can set up Canned responses to save your time. Here’s how you can use the Canned Responses option:

  • Tap on the Gear icon located at the top-right corner.
  • Click on the Settings tab.
  • Navigate to the Labs section and tap on it.
  • Once the pages open, navigate to the Canned Responses option and enable it.

Now, you can use canned responses whenever you want to. All you have to do is tap on the arrow located at the bottom-right corner. Type in the text you want in the Canned Response and save it. Next time, you just have to tap on the canned response and click send to reply to an email.

3. Organize an inbox with labels, folders and categories.

Although a majority of emails can be deleted, you’ll most likely want to retain messages related to key aspects of your business. Correspondence between clients, colleagues and employees can help clarify any miscommunications. Most email programs let users mark messages with specific labels or categories.

Prioritize, group, sort and file messages to keep your inbox organized. The better your filing system, the easier it will be to locate specific emails when you need them. Create parent categories for broad subjects such as the following: clients, projects and finances.

Then use subcategories to file emails related to specific clients or projects. Before you file a message, ensure the subject line is search-friendly. If it doesn’t accurately describe the content of the email, edit the subject line before it’s categorized and archived.


4. Write Brief Emails

Another best way to reduce your time consumption is to write brief emails while responding to the emails in your inbox. Try to add only the important and required messages in an email.

You can also use some alternate mediums like slack, trello and skype to manage your conversations with business clients to keep yourself productive for all the day.

5. Use a different email address (like Evernote)

This is a neat trick I have only started to use. When subscribing to a newsletter, or purchasing a product online, use a different email address. Gmail allows you to create as many emails as you want. Or you can change your Gmail address to add “+ml” (“ml” for “mailing list”), so it looks like: “[your emailname]+ml@gmail.com”. Use that new email address to subscribe to newsletters and then create a filter to move any email sent to that address to a folder. Gmail ignores the “+ml” part and treats the email like any regular email coming to your account. It’s all explained here.  If you are an Evernote fan, as I am, you can use your Evernote email. Simply forward your travel, hotel, and subscription confirmations, etc. to your Evernote email address and, Presto!, it shows up in Evernote, ready for you to add tags.