Email is great
and saves a lot of time. You no longer have to wait three or more days for someone to get a message from you. You can use it to be more organized, set tasks, and more. But, email can also get out of control and suck up a lot of time if you don’t practice good email management and stay organized. Below are 8 steps that you should consider when practicing email management.
- Use Rules, Filters, Labels and Folders – Remember that simple email management systems are better than complicated ones, so don’t go too crazy with these, but do create labels and/or rules and filter to help you organize your mail better.
- Read Emails and Act Immediately – When you open an email, take care of it immediately. Read it, and then act. If it requires nothing, delete it; if it has something interesting you want to note, use a note-taking program to save it. If it has a task, copy and paste into your to-do list and calendar.
- Set Specific Times for Checking Your Email – Don’t keep your email notifications on all day long so that you’re constantly dealing with email. Instead, choose specific times during the day to check email, at the very least first thing in the morning, after lunch, and about an hour before the close of business. Let your people know your schedule.
- Create Separate Email Addresses – The great thing about email addresses is in most cases you’re not limited to how many you can have. Don’t go nuts, but do create a separate email for unimportant information such as business that requires an email sign-up to view information, or non-relevant newsletters. Separate customer service addresses are good too.
- Be Free with the Delete Key – It’s tempting to save all those cool newsletters with great points and things to learn, but the truth is, you’re not likely to ever read them again. Use your note-taking tool to keep the most important points, and then delete.
- Create a Swipe File or Hot Keys with Automatic Replies – If you find yourself saying the same things over and over again, which is not uncommon, create a swipe file or hot keys that enable you to answer those questions again and again. Another way is to create a FAQ on your website and link to that specific answer.
- Keep Email Replies Short and Simple – You don’t want to write really long emails to anyone. If you do, people will get confused and not really understand your answer. At the most an email answer should be about three or four paragraphs. If you include bullet points it will be easier for the recipient to act on.
- Copy Tasks to Your Calendar Immediately – Use your calendar to its fullest advantage by copying and pasting anything with a date in it to your calendar immediately. If it’s a task, copy and paste to your project management system too in order to stay on track with your activities.
A final email management idea is to outsource anything to do with customer service to someone else. That way you don’t even need to deal with it. Using these tips and tricks can help you manage your emails so that they don’t take up too much of your time and effort. Taming the email monster will pay off in many ways and give you back more time each day to use on more important tasks.
Till Next Time
Mike Gardner – The Time Doctor