Email is likely one of the communication channels that you most use in your everyday life. Whether it's for work, or personal purposes, by using it effectively, you can avoid adopting bad habits, improve your communication, and make it more secure. Find out how below.

On average, there are over 4 billion email users across the world and over 300 billion emails are sent and received every day according to Statista. These figures reflect the universal reach and importance of this means of communication in our society. Even more, thanks to the expansion of the Internet on electronic devices such as smartphones, you can check your inbox anytime, anywhere, to send and receive messages.

Nevertheless, just as unlimited access to email serves as an effective tool in your day-to-day work, studies, or personal life, it can also have its drawbacks if you don't manage it properly. Habits such as answering every message immediately, sending more information than necessary and constantly checking your email, among others, can negatively impact your professional performance as well as your personal well-being.

How to identify bad email habits?

Martin works for a company that has offices around the world. Through email, he communicates with colleagues and customers from other countries to keep track of the services they provide. As such, he sends and receives lots of information on a daily basis. However, he has realised that he dedicates a large part of his working day to reading and answering messages - and even delays other more important tasks to do so. These two reflections led him to recognise that he had developed bad email habits.

  • Difficulty completing tasks. On a work, educational and personal level, people put things on hold to dedicate more time to their emails. In Martin's case, he realised that he would respond instantly each time that he received a new message, taking time and attention away from the activity he was doing. By the end of the day, tasks would build up. Perhaps, in your case, it takes you more time to complete your work, or finish a book, watching a film, studying, eating or doing your daily activities.
  • Anxiety from checking emails. When he was in his office in front of the computer, or when he was at home or out for a walk, he would check his inbox again and again to see if he had received any new messages. The thought of getting an urgent email that might potentially go unanswered caused him worry and unease. This feeling is more common than you would think, not only with email, but also with social media in general.

Are you having trouble recognising the above signs? There are other options to try to learn if you have bad email habits. One of them is using your own technology. Nowadays it is possible to obtain factual information on how frequently you access your inbox, the number of messages that you handle daily and how much time you spend on your email tool, among other things, through digital apps for smartphones or for some email accounts. With this information, you can get a more accurate idea of your habits and take steps if necessary.

Tips for using your email more effectively 

Aside from the amount of messages that arrive in your inbox, the first thing that you should be aware of is that not all information is of the same importance or urgency, nor does it require the same time or attention. These suggestions will help you properly manage your email.

Abandoning your tasks to read and answer messages one at a time as they come in takes up time and effort. A good idea would be to schedule specific times during the day for the purposes of managing your email. This way, you'll avoid the anxiety of checking it constantly. 

One way to save time, and that of of others, is to write only when necessary. This way, you will avoid information that isn't relevant. A short message is much easier to read. It is always advisable to address communications only to those relevant and, as such, avoid email chains that include more people than necessary.

It might be that you need to save an email to retrieve it again easily later or you need to group together all the messages from one specific sender, among other tasks. Generally speaking, email accounts have options for creating folders and archiving messages, as needed, allowing you to keep your inbox in order. In addition, the less items you have in your inbox, the quicker it will load when you open your email.

Clearly stating what the message you are sending is about will help the receiver more easily understand it and properly manage it. Leaving the subject line blank or using generic words is not advisable.

Last but not least, it is important to treat the information that you manage through your email carefully. Steps such as regularly changing your password, not leaving your email open on your computer and not opening links to suspicious emails to avoid fraud such as phishing, among others, will help you keep your data safe.

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