GOOD

Working Better: How to Use Your Email Effectively

These email management strategies are tried and true-and easy as hell to keep up.

Every three months, GOOD releases our quarterly magazine, which examines a given theme through our unique lens. Recent editions have covered topics like the impending global water crisis, the future of transportation, and the amazing rebuilding of New Orleans. This quarter's issue is about work, and we'll be rolling out a variety of stories all month.



Chances are good that at some point, you’ve implemented some fancy email technique that you were certain could rid you of your chronic email anxiety via color-coded folders and an elaborate filtering system. You took the workshop or read the book, and then six weeks after it totally changed your life, you stopped doing it, only to find your inbox even messier than it was before. So what to do? Keep it simple. These strategies are tried and true—and easy as hell to keep up.

Embrace “Inbox Zero,” sometimes. The Inbox Zero model essentially says that an empty inbox is a happy inbox (and a happy you). It might not be practical for everyone to do every single day, but once a week, set aside an hour to make sure every email that demands your attention has received it. Once it’s done, file it away in a folder (something like “Old Mail”). It’s a great example of a little up-front work that makes your life so much easier in the long run.

For work emails, set a tone and keep it short. If you’re always really chatty in your emails, people will come to expect that from you and may be thrown off if, in a rush, you dash off something curt. Develop a consistent email personality for business correspondence that is polite, professional, and to the point—then stick to it.

Change your email settings. Tell Facebook and Twitter that you don’t want to get updates sent to your inbox.

Unsubscribe. It takes five seconds and clears the muck.

Check it less. Some productivity gurus advise us to check our email only twice or three times a day. If that seems unrealistic, how about once every hour instead of clicking every time you see the number go up on your inbox icon? Most things can wait at least that long.

Set up an auto reply. If you’re so backed up on email that it’s interfering with your work and offending people, you can let them know with a humble and honest auto reply that says as much. But do this very sparingly. Anyone who emails you more than once will get your bounce-back repeatedly, which can get annoying fast.

If you’re really hosed, declare email bankruptcy. This is a last resort—and a borderline obnoxious one. But if you’re so bogged down in email that you don’t know how to dig yourself out, this is an option. You simply tell every person in your inbox that you’ve deleted their email, and to please resend it if it’s important. It’s basically getting yourself to Inbox Zero without the work. Just make sure you keep up with the new messages.

Articles

When former Pittsburgh Steelers' center Mike Webster committed suicide in 2002, his death began to raise awareness of the brain damage experienced by NFL football players. A 2017 study found that 99% of deceased NFL players had a degenerative brain disease known as CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy). Only one out of 111 former football players had no sign of CTE. It turns out, some of the risks of traumatic brain injury experienced by heavily padded adults playing at a professional level also exist for kids with developing brains playing at a recreational level. The dangers might not be as intense as what the adults go through, but it can have some major life-long consequences.

A new PSA put out by the Concussion Legacy Foundation raises awareness of the dangers of tackle football on developing brains, comparing it to smoking. "Tackle football is like smoking. The younger I start, the longer I am exposed to danger. You wouldn't let me smoke. When should I start tackling?" a child's voice can be heard saying in the PSA as a mother lights up a cigarette for her young son.

Keep Reading Show less
via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

On Tuesday morning, President Trump tweeted about some favorable economic numbers, claiming that annual household income is up, unemployment is low, and housing prices are high.

Now, just imagine how much better those numbers would be if the country wasn't mired in an economy-killing trade war with China, bleeding out trillion-dollar-a-year debts, and didn't suffer from chaotic leadership in the Oval Office?

At the end of tweet, came an odd sentence, "Impeach the Pres."

Keep Reading Show less
Politics

October is domestic violence awareness month and when most people think of domestic violence, they imagine mostly female victims. However, abuse of men happens as well – in both heterosexual and homosexual relationships. But some are taking it upon themselves to change all that.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture

At this point most reasonable people agree that climate change is a serious problem. And while a lot of good people are working on solutions, and we're all chipping in by using fewer plastic bags, it's also helpful to understand where the leading causes of the issue stem from. The list of 20 leading emitters of carbon dioxide by The Guardian newspaper does just that.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via International Labour Organization / Flickr and Michael Moore / Facebook

Before the release of "The Joker" there was a glut of stories in the media about the film's potential to incite violence.

The FBI issued a warning, saying the film may inspire violence from a group known as the Clowncels, a subgroup of the involuntarily celibate or Incel community.

Incels an online subculture who believe they are unable to attract a sexual partner. The American nonprofit Southern Poverty Law Center describes them as "part of the online male supremacist ecosystem" that is included in its list of hate groups.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture