We all want to spend less time dealing with our inboxes. Hiver is a Gmail collaboration tool, and its founder, Niraj Ranjan Rout, shared with me some of his favorite email tips to boost productivity. I combined his tips with some of my own, below…
Consider Email Forwarding Rules
Email forwarding allows you to direct selected messages to another address the moment you receive them, Rout says.
For example, you can have all travel-related emails sent directly to your administrative assistant, or all emails related to purchases or invoices sent to your accounting department.
“It’s an automated process, where all you have to do is type in the other email address and select the type of mails you want to automatically direct to them,” Rout says. This could include a keyword, or a domain the message is received from.
If you use email forwarding, I don’t recommend keeping a copy of each email for yourself. Trust your team and minimize your own email in the process. But if you do need to have copies of the emails for reference, have them directed to a specific folder and marked as unread. Keep them out of your inbox.
Another little-known trick I use is that you can add a “+” sign followed by any word, after your username, and before the “@” symbol. This is a variation on your email address that Gmail will deliver to your address. This can be the trigger for the forward. For example, if your email address is [email protected], you can use john[email protected] for any travel plans you make, and then you can create a rule that says that any message received to [email protected] will automatically get forwarded to your administrative assistant.
Another one of Rout’s favorite email tips is creating email filters to sort your inbox, which is just a different kind of rule.
If this is a strategy you want to try, I suggest setting up your own rules instead of relying on automatic features like Gmail’s Priority Inbox. Personally, I don’t think Gmail’s algorithm is reliable enough, which means important messages tend to get lost. But check it out for yourself.
A variation on the technique above is to use [email protected] for any online purchases you make, and then create a filter to automatically move emails send to this address to a “shopping” folder.
Design Email Templates
You should never have to do the same work twice. That’s why Rout recommends designing standard templates for the emails that you or your team members regularly send. Email templates not only smooth your workflow, Rout says. They also reduce your chances of email errors and they give customers or clients a more consistent experience with your company. Ready to create your own email templates? Here are instructions for Outlook and for Gmail.