How to Use Your Smartphone to Increase Your Email Productivity

by John Mortensen

How to Use Your Smartphone to Increase Your Email Productivity

How to Use Your Smartphone to Increase Your Email Productivity

Thanks to smartphones, you have easy access to your email, whether you’re traveling, running errands, or in between appointments. Now you no longer have to log into your computer and then into your email account to check your mail.

This convenience allows your smartphone to increase your email productivity, and you save time. Now, you can make use of those random moments to check and respond to emails on the go. 

That said, do you ever feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of your emails? Is your inbox overflowing with unread messages or emails that you need to add to your to-do list? Do you find your time slips away while you’re checking email? 

If so, you’re not alone. 

Five hours a day checking email

According to a survey by Adobe, people reported spending at least five hours a day checking email. During that time, about three hours were for checking work email, and two hours were for personal email. It can get to the point where you daydream about having a personal assistant dedicated to managing your inbox.

But, how do you balance the benefits of email, especially on your smartphone, without it taking over your schedule? 

3 Strategies to Help Understand Your Email Habits

Fortunately, your smartphone can help you manage the time you spend on email through apps and other tools. But, to understand what will best help you increase your email productivity, you’ll need to understand your email habits. Complete these three tasks to help you discover what causes you to spend too much time on email. 

1- Track how much time you currently spend on email.

 Track how much time you currently spend on email

To track your time, keep it simple and functional. Take at least a few days—one week would be ideal—to monitor how much time you spend on email. 

Take brief notes can help you understand how you’re using that time. For instance, make a note of what you are doing, such as sorting email, going through old email, or reading articles sent to you. You can also indicate if you’re using work or personal email. The purpose of this task is to gain a sense of how often you use email and what tasks you do when on email.

2- Determine how much time you’d like to spend on these tasks each day.

Are you spending more time or less time than you expected on email? If you’re spending too much time, decide how much you’d like to spend each day. Set specific amounts of time for work and personal email. 

3- Identify what habits or actions contribute to you spending too much time on email.

What patterns did you notice when using email? Did sorting emails take a long time? Maybe emails build up in your inbox because you don’t delete messages as you go. Whatever causes your problem, make a list. This will help you find solutions to streamline your time on email and increase your productivity.

Identify what habits or actions contribute to you spending too much time on email

Before going into ways your smartphone can help you improve your email productivity, here are some simple steps that may help:

  • Set a few specific times to check email, whether work or personal.
  • Don’t check your email first thing after you get out of bed. Delay it if possible so you can get something completed on your to-do list before potentially getting sidetracked by what other people need.
  • Set a timer when you start going through emails. When the timer goes off, you have to stop.  

5 Ways Your Smartphone Can Increase Your Email Productivity

Now that you have a better understanding of your email habits, you’ll be able to identify what tools and strategies will help increase your email productivity. 

1- Use the VIP mail setting that’s in your iOS system or push notifications to screen for critical messages without having to open up your email. 

Use the VIP mail setting that’s in your iOS system or push notifications to screen for critical messages without having to open up your email

If you find yourself checking email frequently to see if you’ve heard from a particular person, there’s a better way. 

If you use an iPhone with at least iOS 12, there is a VIP function built-in to the email system of your phone that allows you to prioritize email from particular email addresses. To access the VIP function, first, open your email on your iPhone. If you’re in your inbox, click the back arrow in the top left corner of your screen, so you’re in the “Mailboxes” section. You will see a VIP option that has a star beside it. Click on VIP. You will now be able to create a VIP List. These are emails from people or places that you don’t want to miss. 

Once you have a VIP list, you have some options. You can customize how you want notifications from these email addresses to appear on your phone. Notifications can appear on the lock screen, as a banner, or in the notification center. It’s your choice. Additionally, when you open your email, you can go to the Mailbox view and tap VIP to see only emails from your VIP list. 

To make the most of this option, be sure to keep your VIP list limited to only critical email addresses. You also can remove or add VIPs at any time.

If you don’t use an iPhone, you can use push notifications to screen for critical messages. A push notification is a message that will pop up or appear on your screen. You can set up notifications, so they appear on your locked screen to help notify you of an important email. 

2- Use an email add-on service or app designed to manage your inbox.

 Use an email add-on service or app designed to manage your inbox

If the thought of having a personal assistant helping you manage your email makes you happy (but you can’t hire one), consider adding an email add-on service or app. These types of services can help you sort your email, weed out unnecessary mail, and keep your inbox organized. Here are two popular choices that work with smartphones.

Edison Mail

Edison Mail allows you to manage multiple email accounts in one place. This app also has multiple assistant features to help you manage your inbox, such as sorting messages automatically into categories. It’s easy to unsubscribe from emails and has an easy to use email inbox. It also allows you to un-send an email if you sent it too soon or to the wrong person. Edison Mail is free and is available on the Apple store and Google Play. 


SaneBox is an add-on service that helps you manage your emails so you can focus on your most important messages. With this service, you’ll find it easier to find the emails you need instead of them being lost among all the clutter. 

This email management system does more than sort and declutters your inbox. Some of the additional features include an easy way to unsubscribe from unwanted email, the ability to track email that hasn’t been opened by the recipient, a Do Not Disturb function, and more. 

SaneBox can be used with most email providers. You do have to pay for this service, but it may well be worth the cost if you’re drowning in email. Since this add-on service does have access to your email, be sure to read their privacy and service policy carefully.  

3- Set up filters to send emails to designated folders instead of your inbox. 

 Set up filters to send emails to designated folders instead of your inbox

Opening up your inbox can be overwhelming, with sometimes hundreds of unread emails vying for your attention. Many of the emails aren’t even a priority. Some you may never open. But, you have to look through them to find the critical emails, which takes time. If your inbox is too full, you may accidentally miss an urgent message. 

Even if you have folders to help sort your email into, this process can take a lot of time. You also may find yourself moving mail into folders that you rarely (if ever) open—so what’s the point?

Save yourself time by setting up automatic filters in your email system. Whether you use Gmail, Yahoo Mail, or another provider, most email systems have filters you can use to set up rules for sorting your email. 

When setting up your filters, take the time to evaluate your current folder system. What is working for you? What folders do you never use? Set up a system that is simple and easy to use. If you find you rarely open emails from a specific address, consider unsubscribing. Also, don’t set up so many folders that you can’t figure out where an email is when you need it. 

Keeping your folder system simple is particularly critical if you spend too much of your email time sorting the mail. 

4- Set Up Voice Dictation on your smartphone.

Set Up Voice Dictation on your smartphone

Is typing on the small smartphone keyboard slowing you down when responding to emails? Try using your smartphone’s voice dictation function instead. You’ll save time typing out your message, although you should double-check your message for errors before sending it. 

On iPhone, to activate the voice control features, select the microphone icon beside the spacebar on your keyboard. You can start talking immediately. When you’re done, select the keyboard image or done, depending on your version.

To have punctuation shows up, you’ll need to say the name of the punctuation. For instance, if you want to say “Good morning!”, you’ll need to say “Good morning exclamation mark” for it to show up correctly. You can say “new line” to start text on a new line or “new paragraph” to start a new paragraph.

For an Android phone, open the email and bring up the keyboard. Like with an iPhone, click the microphone icon beside the spacebar to get started. You will also have to speak what punctuation you want to use and if you want a new line or paragraph. 

5- Avoid using your inbox as a to-do list.

Leaving emails in your inbox, so you remember to do something with them later can lead to a cluttered nightmare. You waste time having to open and then reopen the mail to remember what you were supposed to do with the information in the first place.

Avoid this time sink by moving these types of emails into a different format, so your email is no longer part to-do list. 

If the email contains an article or link to something you want to read later, put that article or link in an app like Evernote or Pocket. This will train you to go to a different app when you have time to read articles instead of your email. 

What if the email is a prompt for you to take action or remember to do something? Instead of letting the information hang out cluttering your inbox, as soon as you read the email, put the necessary information in your planner, calendar, or on your to-do list. 

One popular tool that you could use is Trello. Trello is an easy to use productivity tool that allows you to organize information into boards and cards that function as a to-do list or action list. You can also share your boards with other people making it great for collaborative projects. Trello also has an app available on the Apple App Store and Google Play. 

Use Your Smartphone to Improve Your Email Productivity

Smartphones allow you access to email wherever you are. Incorporating tools and apps on your smartphone can help you better manage your email, so you never miss critical mail or feel overwhelmed by an overflowing inbox.  

Smartphones allow you access to email wherever you are.

The Story of the Smartphone

The story of the Smartphone is so amazing and interesting it would be hard to make this entire narrative up. It is so intricately entwined in the ingenuity of humanity and the necessity to continue to discover and grow as a species. There is always hope!

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John Mortensen
John Mortensen


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