Productivity Hacking: Mastering Emails

Kyle Reed // @kylereed

This is part  of a series on Productivity Hacking. You can read the rest here

I love email and I think you do to. Sure you dread your inbox, but if I know anything about you, checking your email is more of a habit verses a productive activity. Most of us check our email 10-25 times a day. Many check to reference previous emails, follow up to other emails or send a message to a co-worker. But inside this checking multiple things can happen: you get overwhelmed by how many emails you have, you get distracted by new emails or obsess over getting your inbox to zero.

No matter your email habits, today we are going to talk about a productivity hack that will allow you to use email to enhance your work rather then distract you from your work.


I use my email inbox as a reference. Keeping important emails at the top, I often refer back to my email app for pertinent information that I need. You might do the same thing. What I have found over time is when I refer back to previous emails for reference I inevitably check my other emails and get distracted by (so called) importance. This is a huge time waster for me and for you.

The battle that we face with email is the law of attention. When we enter the land of unread emails, they are all screaming at us to open and answer them. When we refer back to previous emails, those two week old still haven’t responded to emails start to scream for our attention. Our email inbox is just one big attention seeker. And for most of us, our inbox always wins.

It is time to start using our emails to assist us rather then dominate us.

Here is a trick that I have started to employ for emails.
As soon as I receive an email in that I will need to reference for later I copy the text of the email to an evernote folder that corresponds to the message. This now allows me to move it out of my inbox, reference it for later, and keep focused on the task at hand.

This might sound a bit extreme. But for me, emails can often take time away from my day and can be a huge drain. With this trick I can now store the email away for a later time and never lose or miss an important email or task. This has saved me time and energy and has allowed me to be the aggressor on my work rather then the victim of distraction.

Other email tips

  • Set your email to check for updates every hour.
  • Pick 3 times a day to check your email and respond.
  • Turn off all noise and sound notifications.
  • Don’t use your phone to check email (even to reference, remember that is what evernote is for).
  • Tell others your email schedule. Set up an automated response to tell people when you will be checking your email and responding.

It is time to use email as a productive activity. It is time we start hacking the way we look at email.
Check out this company here who is starting to help us rethink email: Mailbox App

This post is a part of a series of post entitled Productivity Hacking: How to hack productivity to get more done and get results.

Here are some post to choose from:
Productivity Hacking: Chalk and Shower.
Productivity Hacking: Mastering Email.
Productivity Hacking: Silence.
Productivity Hacking: Beat People to the Busy Places.
Productivity Hacking: Find Momentum To Get More Done

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Kyle Reed

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I create websites, conversations, and ideas. Advocate for the 20 somethings. Looking to connect everyone to a mentor. Married to my best friend, Ginny. I like my coffee black and my dog Jack. I currently live in Nashville and work at Sony Music/Provident in Nashville