How to Manage Your Email Before It Manages You
Most of us think of email as a never-ending time drain, yet taming your inbox has never been easier. It’s one thing to let your personal email slide; it’s another to let your work email go. Doing so costs you time, money and productivity.
Since email is such an important function of communication between you and your clients, you must face this challenge head-on, doing everything you can to create a healthier, more stress-free work environment so that you can stay focused on retaining the clients you have and recruiting new ones.
Here are some tips that really work:
Disallow Notifications. We have trained ourselves to respond immediately when our phone pings or vibrates. While this may seem business as usual, it can be a major distraction at our job, disrupting workflow, and perhaps nixing a great idea or thought. Stay in control by disabling notifications when necessary, allowing yourself a clearer focus during the workday.
Delete Mercilessly. Oftentimes, you can tell if an email is worth reading just by its subject line. If it’s not, delete it! And, if you think you will read it at some point, you likely won’t. Not acting and deleting unnecessary emails is perhaps the easiest and simplest way to clog your email’s arteries. At times, just scan your inbox for spam or no-longer needed emails, and get rid of them. Also, remember that deleting them doesn’t mean they’re gone; it simply goes to your trash, which you must empty.
Schedule, Schedule, Schedule! As tempting as it is to check your email every 5 minutes, don’t. You need to be free from distractions, especially when handling your clients’ most sensitive information. Give yourself a set schedule to check your email, perhaps every hour or so. Using the timer on your phone is perfectly acceptable.
Categorize and Classify. When sifting through emails, we’ve all felt overwhelmed. On one hand, we want to go on a deleting email frenzy to remove the clutter; on the other, we are worried we might gloss over an urgent email or not respond promptly enough.
These problems can go away by simply using the settings in your email program. For example, marking emails as “unread” brings that email to the front, allowing you to find and address it more efficiently. In addition, categorize certain email by creating new folders. We all work on so many different projects and cater to different clients. Being able to differentiate between them in email folders, with color-coded categories, is a huge step toward time savings and productivity.
Direct Communication. Now, there’s a thought! There’s nothing like real-time or in-person communication, handling an issue or a question right away. Don’t take up someone’s time by email if you don’t have to, and for goodness sakes, quit hitting the “reply to all” button unless it’s absolutely necessary. Whether it’s a co-worker in the next room or a client/colleague over the phone, you can verbally get the job done. Not only that, but they might appreciate seeing your face or hearing your voice. The proactive and personal touch/approach is always welcomed.
Unsubscribe. You might be part of a list or blast email that you are copied on, yet don’t need to read. This would be a completely unnecessary waste of time to even delete, so do yourself a favor and unsubscribe from the list/blast. Moreover, go a step further and go over protocol with your peers or colleagues on when to copy you on emails, dodging the unnecessary ones. Trust me – you won’t miss them!
What are some of your tips and tricks to manage email?