Email is a powerful tool. But its help with doing business ever faster creates added business pressure. Consider these five strategies for better email management.
- Don’t start your day with email. Many people do. It’s how they set up for the day. However, beginning the day with a cup of coffee and clicking through your inbox, can backfire. Many of those emails become items on your to-do list. You put off important tasks from your day responding to other people’s requests. Plan your day around your business needs first. Even knock off some of the more important tasks, before diving into that inbox!
- Think twice about checking email constantly. It’s tempting to open emails as soon as they arrive. But, you only want to tackle your inbox when you have the time to take action. If you open an email planning to get back to it later, you’ll likely forget. When you have to revisit an email to remind yourself what it’s about, you’re doubling the time you spend on that message. Avoid interrupting your momentum by turning off email alert notifications and phone badges. Instead, set regular times to read and respond to accumulated emails.
- Write clear, concise emails. Avoid contributing to a colleague’s inbox chaos. Provide as much relevant information as possible. Now, that doesn’t mean writing a War and Peace-length email. Focus your message for your audience, anticipate questions, and answer in that email. Starting the message with an informative subject line can make a big difference too.
- Save time with reusable messages. You often end up answering the same questions over and again. Create templated emails that you can have at the ready to provide relevant details. Depending on your email software, this capability may be built in or you may need to add a plug-in.
- Use filters and folders to sort email. Learn how to automatically filter your messages into the appropriate folders. For example, if the email is from firstname.lastname@example.org then send it to your “Accounting” folder. This can save hundreds of hours a year. The better your folder system, the less time you’ll spend looking for specific emails when you need them. In Outlook, you can also set up a filter to change the color of email for different senders. Your boss could be red, and you’d know to handle that one first. Also save time by setting up strong filters for junk and spam. Unsubscribe from mailing lists that you don’t need any longer. Cleaning out the clutter can make your inbox much less overwhelming.