My Incredibly Simple Email Strategy, Process, Whatever…

I recently tried @Mailbox app and I hated it. Yes, that’s a strong word, but I literally started sweating and could feel my face getting red as I started engaging with the application.

My wife, who was sitting next to me, asked me if I was ok. I had to remove my jacket I was getting so anxious. This is simply due to the fact that email is sacred ground and my process is as “locked in” as it’s going to get. It’s different on every single device, mobile and desktop, and I have an incredibly hard time changing it.

Why? Because my strategy/process/whatever works and I don’t see anything close as an alternative that would make it any better or more effective.

But I’ll give everything a shot, at least once.

Now, I’ve spoken on my email before and how I’ve made it my best friend so there’s a good place to start if you’re curious as to what I do but those are just strategies surrounding the actual email process and not the method itself.

In this post I’ll share my process as it’s very, very simple:

1. Scan and Delete

The first thing I do is scan for things that I can obviously delete. These may include legitimate emails that do, in fact, need a response. But if I don’t suspect that it’s worded right or that it’s clear enough I’ll just ignore it completely.

I’m not sorry about this either. Those that need to get information to me know that there are more effective ways. Those that don’t can wait or will find another solution I suppose.

2. Answer and Delete

After I scan and delete, which typically ends up being most of the emails that I get, I commit to answering the ones that are left as best as I can in as few sentences as possible. After sending I delete them. I almost never archive.

3. Return and Delete

For those that require long-form answers or require more information that I currently have I let them sit in my inbox until I have the necessary information. I then answer them and then delete.

Or, if these are time-related emails that have a specific piece of information for a specific period of time I will let them sit in my inbox until they are no longer of use. A perfect example of this is if I’ve sent myself map directions to an event that is happening in a few days. I will let this email ‘sit’ until I need it and will delete it, even as soon as I arrive to the destination.

4. Archive

In the rare circumstance I will archive something because it has some historical significance. This is very rare as I typically capture all the important information in another system, like Dropbox or Basecamp.

That’s it. That’s my process. It’s been built over years and years of use and it’s so well oiled. That I have no need for another system. I use “Search” if I’m looking for something and that’s about it.

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