By Tonya Love
(From the Editor: This article was originally published on MPW Insider, an online community sponsored by Fortune, where leaders in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Tonya posted this response to the question: “How do you manage email overload?” She is manager of business relations and marketing at the Xerox Research Centre Europe in Grenoble, France.)
Many of us have a love-hate relationship with email; however, most of us couldn’t do our jobs without it. In fact, according to a study in April 2014 by The Radicati Group, the average number of business-related emails sent and received is set to soar, from 121 each day now to at least 140 each day in 2018. My position at Xerox requires me to work with many cross-functional teams that operate all over the world. This means several different time zones, so email is actually the best tool to keep me connected.
Below are a few of my best tips for staying connected and productive:
Know when to take conversations off-line
When an email appears to be the start of a lengthy conversation, I pick up the phone and have a real one. Send a meeting request, instead of creating a long chain of emails that ultimately clogs your inbox.
Designate a specific time for email
I used to keep email notifications on 24/7. I’d look at my inbox whenever I heard that familiar ding. It was distracting and not at all efficient. Instead, I created specific windows of time to look at and respond to emails. For instance, because so many of my colleagues are in different time zones, I optimize my mornings to answer any emails from those in India or the U.S. Additionally, every Monday I eat lunch at my desk; I use this time to prioritize my inbox for the week.
End of day wrap-up
At the end of each day, I take time to review my entire inbox. This includes flagging and prioritizing emails to work on the next morning. While I rarely get to an empty inbox, this does help me organize my to-do list for the following day.
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Read all answers to the MPW Insider question: How do you manage email overload?
How to empty your inbox (and keep it empty) by Julie Larson-Green, CXO of applications and services group at Microsoft.
Hate email? Here’s 5 ways to deal by Sheri Hickok, chief engineer of Next Generation Full Size Trucks at General Motors.
How to manage your inbox (before it manages you) by Camille Preston, founder of AIM Leadership.
Ivanka Trump: 5 tips for managing email overload by Ivanka Trump, executive vice president of development and acquisitions at the Trump Organization.