The 5 Minute Secrets To Mastering Your Email Inbox

photo: Beige Renegade

Do you ever feel swamped by your emails? It seems like we are constantly being bombarded by little messages popping into our inbox, the ever present musical tone alerting us to yet another thing that needs our attention.

It’s actually very detrimental to our level of work efficiency and productivity.

Studies have shown that if we are repeatedly being distracted from our current task at hand to check and reply to emails, our efficiency levels lower, our quality of work suffers and (no note on whether this has been studied quantitatively) it gets really irritating!

So how do we get past this modern-day issue?

Avoid Emails First Thing

Some people refrain from checking their email first thing in the morning. Instead, they start immediately working on their most pressing tasks and once those are finished, then they check their inbox. Other people check their inbox only at set times.

Schedule An Automatic Reply

I emailed a colleague recently and immediately got an automatic response back which read:

Hi there,

I check my inbox daily at 10:30am, 1pm and 3pm. If you require an urgent response please call me on _________

Warmest regards,


Brilliant! An automatic reply to all emails and set times to check the inbox!

The Golden 5 Minute Rule

Of course, these techniques don’t work for everybody and that’s where the 5-minute rule comes into play. It’s so simple! All you have to do is wait 5 minutes before replying, no matter how urgent it is.

At the end of the day, an extremely important email will require you to spend a good few minutes digesting and unpacking the information in it before you can reply. A hastily typed and sent response is never going to be your best work.

Try it for yourself! What other tips do you have for keeping your inbox and emails stress-free?

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  1. I love the 5 minute rule! I rarely use it though, but starting now I am going to try to master it! I work 100% from my email and my phone. My job is essentially to talk to people and organize events for people, so I have to respond…doesn’t mean I have to do it right away though!

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