Are you a slave to email, do you feel that as soon as an email hits your inbox you have to stop what you are doing, read the email and respond to it, does email management exist for you? When you are out, do you check your emails on your smart phone? Does email sometimes feel more like a burden than what it’s worth? The truth is that email is a tremendous tool that has revolutionized the way we work, when used correctly email is an awesome time saver and productivity tool. But, for it to remain a tool of productivity and not a drag, it’s important to learn how to manage it better, so as not to be a slave to it, here’s how:
Use Email Folders or Labels For Email Management
Every email software comes with the ability to automatically put emails in to particular folders or add labels to them as they come through. It will greatly reduce your stress if things go into folders as they come in, so you can take one look and differentiate what is an emergency and what can wait until later. I personally give all of my clients their own folder, inquires go into another folder, newsletter into others, etc… so that I know which folders I need to action when I am ready without getting distracted by other emails.
Check Email Regularly
Don’t allow too much time to pass by before checking your email. You don’t want to be tied to your email but you don’t want thousands of emails piled up either. Check your email on a regular schedule, and then deal with each email accordingly. Shoot for having no more than 10 to 20 unread emails in your inbox at any given time. I know many business coaches will advise you to check emails once or twice a day, however in my opinion it really depends on your business, the number of emails you receive etc… hence setting a suitable time-frame to deal with 10 to 20 emails, and you’ll quickly realize how this helps with email management.
When someone has sent you something in your email such as paperwork, forms, important information or something, be sure to quickly hit reply and say “Thanks! Got it.” It’s that simple. You do not always have to respond about the item they sent immediately, instead you can download the item, put it in a dated file and/or tag it as a task to deal with later. And the best advice is to prioritize your emails based on the folders or labels you have set up.
Read, Respond and File
Before there was email, there was snail mail and faxes. We all learned that the best way to check the mail was at our desks, near the filing cabinet as well as the trash can. Nothing has really changed. When you check your email you should read, respond and/or file it away depending upon the email. You can even, in most email programs, turn an email into a scheduled task.
Reduce Incoming Emails
Turn off notifications from social media; unsubscribe from newsletters you don’t read but that you did sign up for. You can use a service called Unroll.me to get it done fast. The service will return a list and you can then just choose which ones you want to keep and which ones you want to unsubscribe to. You add the things you want to see to your daily roll up, which enables you to view them when you want to, but not clutter up your email and of course make sure your read the FX Digital newsletter.
Create a Disposable or “Burner” Email Address
If you like to read a lot online, choose a free email address from Google or Yahoo for anyone who doesn’t require a business email address and for whom prompt reply will not be needed. You can always delete that email address and create a new one as needed. This can reduce what you receive in your work email exponentially and it will help you control spam.
Learn Your Software
A great example is the ability to “un-send” emails in Google email programs. Many people do not know this exists. You only have about 30 seconds to realize you should un-send it and click “undo send,” but it’s possible. If you use Google, make sure that you use this. If you use something else, find out whether or not you really know how to use your software to its fullest potential. If not, then you’ll want to train yourself on how to use all the features your email program offers, it really is worth it.
If you have a lot of customer service emails, don’t handle them yourself. It’s important to understand that since it’s your business, many of those customer service issues can take you a long time to deal with due to your emotional attachment to the issues. Instead, hire someone to take care of customer service. They will alert you to the most pressing issues that only you can deal with and handle the rest. I personally have a ticket system set up, which means customers send an email to our support desk, this automatically goes into our ticketing system which any staff member can access and deal with, you could set something like this up easily and if you don’t know how to speak to us at FX Digital.
I know almost everyone has a smart phone and I like many used to check my emails constantly while I was out of the office using my smart phone. However I quickly realized that this was becoming an issue and for the last several years I have not checked a single email on my phone. In fact, I’ve even stopped answering my phone while driving which has given me much more time to think and plan my business however that’s the subject of another article.
Getting control of your email will enable you to become more productive, organized, and more effective at doing your job or running your business. You will feel more free and accomplished if your email is organized and not out of control and believe me, it’s amazing to have this feeling once you stop being a slave to email and conquer email management.