“Why are we still using email?”
If that’s a question you’ve asked yourself recently, you’re in good company. Despite the slew of communication alternatives cropping up almost daily, from Slack to Viber to Snapchat to WeChat, e-mail—which even The New York Times has called out for its “terrible, horrible, no-good impact on our daily lives”—has managed to endure against all odds.
And it’s only getting worse.
Today, e-mail isn’t just a stressful repository of messages from your boss and everyone else (Mom, marketers, incarcerated Nigerian princes who really need your help), it’s also a glut of other time-sucks: to-do lists, file transfers calendars, shared word processing... The cold, hard truth is, every time your e-mail pings in your pocket and you feel that knee-jerk excitement that makes you scramble for your phone, you have no idea what it’s for.
There’s got to be a better way to live, right? Right. Of course, you don’t have to disavow e-mail entirely, like BuzzFeed’s San Francisco bureau chief, Mat Honan, did earlier this year. (“I no longer use personal e-mail,” reads his autoreply. “Please contact me via another method.”) All you really need to do is get smarter about how you use it, download the right e-mail-friendly apps, and make sure you take advantage of the great new tools that make cleaning up your in-box a breeze.
Just follow these six steps and you’ll thank me later.