As they say curiosity killed the cat and email killed the employee. However, emails are one of the greatest conveniences ever created: we can send our coworkers to-do lists in an instant to make it look like we are busy, communicate with our customer’s overseas while in our pajamas, and tell the whole company what we ate today by simply adding the employee list to our recipient tab. At the same time, our email accounts have become our own bosses, the longer it’s open, the more our to-do list continues to grow.
This is Madness!
Many of us have given up trying to keep up with the madness of receiving so many emails, that they just let their inboxes overflow and surrender. A recent executive summary states that in 2016 we receive on average 216 emails per day! That means if you go on vacation for one week and when you come back you will have over 1,000 emails in your inbox. Hope you enjoyed yourself, now get back to work.
A tip that I teach in my corporate workshops to help with this predicament goes as follows: you need to start thinking that you are the CEO of a fortune 500 company. You need to prioritize what is really important- a much smaller amount than 216. Same with a CEO you should not hear about something if it’s not important which means…you should never see the lower priority emails if you don’t want to. Why don’t you have the same system in place with an assistant screening your emails? Well, here is your very own assistant and it’s free: the buffer email account.
Answer: Add a Buffer Email Account
What is a buffer email account? Many of us have several email accounts for different purposes and if you don’t separate your personal from your work, you should start to. Usually people have one for personal and the other for business. The point is to add a third account that has all of the lower priority emails sent to it. Here are three different types of accounts that you probably have:
First Email Account Personal:
Time On: Maximal
Who Gets It: Only close friends, family, and very important information such as credit cards, PG&E etc.
Second Email Account Work:
Time On: Work Hours (could be less if batching is involved)
Who Gets It: LinkedIn, Anyone at Work
Third Email Account Buffer:
Time On: 5 minutes/week
Who Gets It: Newsletters, Product Signups, Social Media notifications, anything that looks fishy to sign up for
You might have noticed that you only check the buffer account 5 minutes every week! Yep, these are your lowest priority items; they will not affect your mortality if they wait a week. You don’t worry about emptying this inbox. You just let it overflow and let it ‘do its thing.’ For those 5 minutes when you check it, you just glance over the emails and see if anything looks interesting. Once you are done, just log out and continue with your week.
I was working with a recruiting firm and one of the agents mentioned how much this system (or tip) helped. They said just by separating their emails accounts and by making their work only high priority emails they saw a 47% drop in their work email inbox. They also found it really helpful since they knew whatever was going to an inbox was a high priority and not a promotional email.
Why not have all of the emails go to one account?
1. If you were trying to lose weight, do you think it would be easier to leave binge foods in a cupboard or just not have in them in the house? See my point? If you have emails going to a place that is inconvenient, you start to forget their importance. Do the same with your emails.
2. You don’t have to ‘train’ your inbox to deal with new domains. When you have a buffer account, all of the emails are sent there and you don’t know until a week later.
What if I have all of my newsletters going to my personal/work?
Use the app unroll.me to unsubscribe and move all of your subscriptions over to the buffer account.
Bonus Tip: How come I keep getting random emails from people I don’t know?
Sorry but this is going to hurt but here is goes: people buy and sell emailing lists. That means that if you sign up with a newsletter, there’s a possibility that some random person will get ahold of your email and be able to add you to their newsletter.
Plus, people can do a reverse lookup on your LinkedIn for your email account. So if you don’t want your work email bombarded by sales reps you might want to change what account you associate with your LinkedIn profile.
Hope that helps with the madness of keeping up with emails.
Jeff Butler Internationally respected speaker and consultant, Jeff Butler helps bridge generational gaps between Millennials and companies looking for their talent and patronage. Butler has quickly built his reputation as a memorable presenter with tangible solutions for attracting, retaining, and engaging Millennials as employees and customers. Within just the past three years, he has spoken at two TEDx events and multiple Fortune 500 companies such as Google, Amazon, and LinkedIn.