It’s hard to imagine a world without email, isn’t it? We rely on email to connect, not just in business, but with friends and family. Smartphones have made it even easier to keep in touch using email. But just like every business tool, you have to be smart at using email properly or it can EASILY consume your days.
If you’re a business owner, you know that managing your email can be incredibly overwhelming. You open up your inbox every day and groan over the ever-increasing wave of messages waiting for your attention. You know you spend WAY too much time wading through your inbox, and the rest of your business suffers. It’s time to do something about it!
Try these simple, proven email productivity tricks to get back on track:
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Schedule time during the day for email
Easier said than done, right? And, this is especially difficult if you have your email account synced to a mobile device.
Look, I know it’s tempting to drop everything and check your email the second you get a new notification, I really do. But when you check your email too frequently, you’re more likely to skim through, and you end up forgetting or ignoring important messages.
How about setting specific times during the day to check and respond to messages? Generally, 1-2 times a day is enough, in the morning and again at the end of the workday.
Use Templates for Commonly Asked Questions
If you get asked the same questions frequently, it’s probably time to create what’s known as a canned or template response.
For example, if you offer stock images, you’ll likely receive emails from new buyers asking how they should download or save their photos. In this type of scenario, you’ll save a ton of time if you have an already-written response to send out as a reply. Then all you then have to do is copy and paste your response each time you get the same question.
Decide What to Do with Each Email (Quickly)
Procrastinators beware! Putting off replying to emails when required will seriously undermine your productivity.
See, you only have a few basic options when it comes to handling email messages. You can respond, file/archive, delegate, or delete your emails.
Once you’ve decided what to do with the email, ask yourself if you’ll need the information later. For example, an e-receipt for business purchases is usually best to file away for tax purposes or in case you need proof of purchase for a warranty or return.
But emails that aren’t important or that you don’t have to follow up with can be deleted right away.
This is a big one. There are so many of us incubating thousands of emails in our inboxes because we didn’t take decisive action.
Pick up the Phone
Sometimes, you just have to go old-school and call somebody. There’s a lot you can miss with an email, things like tone, and tiny details that can make a massive difference to your understanding of an issue.
If you’re working on a project with someone, there’ll likely come a time when you need to talk things through, and email just won’t cut it. If you’ve sent a dozen emails back and forth about the same issue and you still haven’t come to an agreement, it may be time to pick up the phone (Skype, Zoom, Hangouts work too!)
That’s it. 4 easy ideas to beat email overwhelm!
- Develop a system for tackling email and business communication that will make life easier for you (and your clients). Write it down. I have a handy worksheet for you to put down your ideas. I know that mastering your inbox can be tricky. But, if you take a little time to implement these tips, you’ll be infinitely more productive and happier at work.
- Remember, email management is also an excellent service to outsource to a virtual assistant!
- Additional tips for managing excessive email are on this post