Image by Jason Rogers.
Image by Jason Rogers.

Marketers love to tell the story of how one technology disrupted another. As tempting as this narrative is to believe, sometimes it is unnecessary and blinds us to the power of the tools we are trying to disrupt.

I along with many others that work in the tech industry, are obsessed with the idea of “killing email,” of disrupting the way we communicate digitally. We see this as necessary because our inboxes control us. We see email as unproductive, a time killer and the opposite of what we have been trying to achieve in social media. Many are convinced that social media is going to replace email like the iPod replaced my shockwave cd player, but thus far we have been wrong. Email is here to stay.

The following illustrates why email remains the stubborn and strong mule of the information age as well as 4 tips on how to take control of your inbox.

The Power of Email

According to the Wikipedia, Electronic mail (email) predates the inception of the Internet and was in fact a crucial tool in creating it. This in itself is very telling, and we often overlook the power of email when we attempt to destroy it.

Here are 4 reasons why email is still the best communication tool out there:

  1. Email is one of the most secure digital communication tools. This is especially important for business communication that needs to be end-to-end encrypted.

  2. Email is used as a searchable archive. Inboxes have become where we store our bills, work, contacts… much of our digital life.

  3. Email has become infrastructure. Like a telephone number or postal code, email addresses have become a part of our system

  4. Email is still the best route for one-to-one, personal communication

Stop email from ruling your life

After years of forecasting email’s demise, and failed attempts at killing it, the story has evolved and it’s now time to change the way we use email.

As a content marketer for a start-up, I live in my email inbox. I have set up camp and I’m not leaving. Between my various work and personal email accounts, I see hundreds of emails per week. For those higher up on the food chain, their inboxes reach the thousands every week. To combat this overload, here are our 4 favorite ways to tame the email beast.

4 Tips to Take Back Your Inbox

  1. Practice Inbox Zero. (If you can’t answer it immediately, delete it, archive it, or put it in a folder.)

  2. Keep emails concise. Sites like help train people to when possible keep emails to clear, consise messages.

  3. Filter Filter Filter

    1. Create filters to block spam and don’t engage in spammy behavior yourself.

    2. Take advantage of the power of the data behind Gmail, Apple Mail and Hotmail and use filtering systems that are built into the mail providers. By creating a filter system, you eventually train your mail provider to know what’s important to you

    3. Once you change the way you use email, it creates space for the more important emails to stand out.

  4. Use social media for less important updates, like cat picture fwds. For anything that isn’t private, post it in an internal company chat like a Yammer group.

Read more: Is Social Media Going to Kill Email?