Rajeev Goel, CEO of California software firm PubMatic, has trained himself to empty his email inbox by the end of every workday.
Here’s how he does it, according to a recent report in Fast Company:
1. Rethink email’s role. Instead of treating email as a chore, see it as a way to facilitate productive work. Goel clicks on every incoming email with enthusiasm because he’s eager to gather information that will enable him to make faster, better decisions.
2. Clear away the less essential. At the start and end of every business day, Goel reads and deletes all email that he does not need to act upon. That leaves him with about 10% to 30% that demand his attention.
He reserves time at day’s end to reply to every urgent message.
3. Wait a few hours. Some people mistakenly assume that the faster they reply to email, the fewer they’ll get. Actually, the opposite is true. Goel doesn’t rush to reply to emails that aren’t obviously urgent. He’ll wait until later in the day. By that time, who knows? The matter may have resolved itself.
4. Cluster emails by sender. Group your incoming emails by sender. Then wait to reply until you’ve reviewed all emails by that person. “Rather than reply to three emails from Kirk, I might add them to a list of topics for Kirk and I to speak about in our next [meeting], then we can quickly go through them in a live conversation rather than having had 30 back and forth emails,” Goel says.
Key point: Sometimes it’s far more productive to talk in person than carry on an email “conversation.”