Corresponding by email is now the most popular method of contact for most individuals and businesses. The ease and speed at which people can reach you and send information has made email a fantastic tool over the years. The growth of email has been phenomenal over the years, even more so in recent years with the emergence of the smart phone. We truly are living in a world where people can work from any place at any time.
However, with the growth of emails more and more people are looking for ways in which they can handle their emails better and more efficiently, various systems have been proposed which work for some and not for others. We have outlined 5 tips which should allow you to be more efficient in handling your emails.
Tip 1: Schedule email time
Ultra-productive people tend not to react to emails when they are received. Instead they treat emails in the same way as other tasks, it is an activity that should be scheduled for specific times and completed in as little time as possible. The idea is that emails do not need to be “checked” constantly, instead they are checked at specific times, replied to and marked as completed immediately.
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- Schedule three times a day to check and process your email.
- At each set time spend 21 minutes (or an appropriate time based on the number of emails you receive on average) and in that time try to get your inbox to zero.
Tip 2: Turn off all notifications
Email notifications and pop ups will interrupt your concentration, disrupt your work sprints, affect your ability to concentrate and be present in meetings and conversations. Whether it is a pop up on screen, a vibration on your phone or a ping on your computer – turn those notifications off!
Tip 3: Unsubscribe!
Don’t allow anyone to intrude on your working day unnecessarily. Most newsletters, special offers and deals are rarely worth reading, most emails will now have a link allowing the receiver to unsubscribe within seconds. If all you are doing is deleting these emails then you did not need them in the first place!
An alternative is to have a secondary email address to receive these emails to, time can then be scheduled to periodically review these and read the ones that are relevant and important,
Tip 4: Organise and structure your emails
Folders are a great way to organise the emails, folders can be for completed emails, to do tasks or even a point of reference for useful information.
However, for folders to be useful it is important you use a naming system that is relevant to you. A poor naming system will just make managing the folders a task in itself. Don’t store every email received in a folder, make an immediate decision if the email may be needed again in the future and if not delete it, storing and archiving emails that are of no use will only slow your system down.
Your email programme should also be set up in a way that is easy for you to quickly view and see all the relevant info. This needs to be customised to your own way of working to make it relevant. Programmes such as Outlook have many features to amend the layout, view, columns, and rules to automatically action items based on pre-set criteria.
Tip 5: Be selective who to reply to and when to reply
It is important to note that not every email you receive needs a reply. If you look to reply to every email received you will often find yourself spending all day replying to emails and are unlikely to get any other work completed. Each email should be reviewed and then consider if there is any value in replying, if the cost outweighs the benefits then a reply is probably not required.
Also, not every email that requires a reply has to be responded to immediately. In many cases a holding response advising the sender you have received the email and advising of the time you expect to take to get back to them will suffice and appease the sender. To push back other work already scheduled to reply to emails may not be the most efficient thing to do.
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