If you hate email, you’re probably not using it right.
As far as famous people go, Mark Cuban is a very easy person to reach. He has several public email addresses where he invites entrepreneurs to send him pitches and ask for advice — and as you can imagine, there are a lot of people who take him up on that.
Cuban says he gets around 750 to 1,000 emails from entrepreneurs every day. And he works through all of them, in addition to all the other emails he receives from his team and everyone else. Most people seem to be interested in how to craft an email that will get his attention, but as an efficiency nerd and self-proclaimed email expert, I was more curious about his process for dealing with so many emails.
Here’s what I found, with some sage advice of my own peppered in.
Step 1: Delete
On an episode of the Raising the Bar podcast, Cuban explained that his primary method for dealing with all these emails is to “Delete, delete, delete.” He said it takes him about two seconds to decide whether to respond to an email or delete it.
I think this is great advice, except for one glaring issue. There’s really no need to delete an email in this day and age. Instead, you should be archiving your emails. When an email is deleted, it’s gone forever — but archiving means it’s still accessible in your email’s archive.
Any time an email isn’t relevant to you or doesn’t warrant a response, you should archive it to get it out of your inbox without truly deleting it. That way, you can keep your inbox clean without letting anything get lost. This is a crucial step in achieving Inbox Zero, an email management technique I highly recommend implementing.
Step 2: Delegate
If Cuban sees something that piques his interest, he’ll send a quick reply peppering them with questions. If the person provides sufficient answers, he knows there’s some potential.
At that point, he hands the email over to his team. Essentially, he delegates the conversation to someone else. He says, “I have different people with different types of expertise and I’ll ask them to dig in and cover the bases that I’m not fully versed on,” which is something I often find myself doing.
As a business founder, I’ve spent years building up a team of experts. So if I find myself in an email conversation that would be better suited to someone more specialized than myself, I’ll just cc the relevant person on my team and ask them to take over the conversation. I trust that they’ll make a better decision than I would since it’s their area of expertise, and it’s now one less thing I have to think about.
Step 3: Filter
The first two steps are essentially how Cuban handles the 1,000 emails he receives from entrepreneurs every day. But there’s one final strategy he implements to cut down on the number of emails he receives in the first place.
For anyone looking to get Cuban’s attention, he says “the absolute worst thing” you can do is email him repeatedly. His solution to this is simple — he creates a filter within Gmail that auto-deletes any emails from the specified address.
This specific technique probably isn’t relevant for most people, but it’s worth considering how you might implement a similar technique in your daily life. I often say “the best way to get to Inbox Zero is to get to Email Zero,” meaning the best way to cut down on email is to limit the amount of emails that make it to your inbox in the first place.
Most email tools have automatic filtering features that will sort your email into different categories, like “social,” “promotions,” “updates,” and more. These are great features that use machine learning to improve the way they sort emails over time. If you haven’t already, try turning them on. That way, you can focus on your most important emails right away and get to the other stuff later.
You can even take it a step further by creating custom filters to remove emails with certain keywords from your inbox. If you really don’t want any marketing emails, for example, you could create a filter to move any email containing the word “unsubscribe” to a different folder. Then you can quickly review the folder once a week or so to make sure nothing slipped through the cracks. (Or, if you’re really daring, you could set the rule to archive them all.)
I have a lot of thoughts on how to use email properly, but I have to say, Mark has the right idea here. Whether you’re at Inbox Zero or not, give these steps a shot. You might be surprised how an efficient inbox can impact the rest of your day.
Feature Image Credit: Mark Cuban. Getty; Inc.