Don’t Stress Over Email: Manage It!

When trying to decipher your email and get on with your day, don’t spend all of your quality time on it. It can be a time waster if you don’t manage it & use it wisely. If you are in business that can be bad for business. Learn to go through your emails in a more proficient & organized way.

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A. HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU CHECK IT ?

Many of our most important communications are done through email. Many people would say check it only 2 times a day, that’s fine if you are not running a business. In business, that may be impossible, you be the judge. If you can successfully manage your business emails by only checking them twice a day that’s good. For a lot of other people twice a day would mean missed opportunities, so 4-5 times a day may be enough.

Ponder the purpose of each email & ask yourself “Is this a good use of my time ?” You must have a system in place & allow only specific times of the day to check your email. Go through each one & decide what’s most important to get through your business day. Make notes of the important ones (name of the email, date &/ or time), how soon or when you need to handle that email.

To have a more productive day don’t spend all of your time or several hours on emails till the point where you can’t finish your business of the day. Make a list of the times or days that you will go through your email & stick to it! Save the none improtant stuff for later times in the day, on the weekend or at the close of business; stuff like saying hello to friends, reading jokes, filtering spam.

B. IMPLEMENT STEPS TO ORGANIZE & PRIORITIZE EMAILS

If you get a lot of email, a way to insure that you see the most important emails you can start by having 2 accounts. Use your main or 1st email address for general purposes ( this could be the one that you put on your business cards). The 2nd one could be like an unlisted phone number ( it’s the one that you only give to select people, important clients, special email notices etc….)

Another option is to use the filter functions on your emails. This automatically routes incoming messages from certain people to their own special folders. You can use filters to seperate business from personal emails. You can even direct different client messages into their own unique folders.  Filters will also sort junk mail. Set your filter to detect incoming messages that have words like “friends”, “make money”, “hot”, “sexy” and so on to the trash bin, junk folder etc…

C. PROCESS PROMPTLY THEN FILE OR DELETE

Read each email once or twice then file it or delete it. Take no more than 24-48 hours to decide on deleting or filing each email. The only ones that should linger in your inbox are ones that you haven’t read yet, that require an action or response from you or for others to see. Your email must become a part of your to-do list & by keeping your incoming emails low, it’s a real time saver.

By using these steps you will know that items in your inbox will require an action or response then messages that you’ve dealt with have been filed, deleted or archived. For emails that you must keep, create folders for clients, projects, special info then drag & drop emails (after you’ve read them) to the right folder. Don’t create too many special folders, this becomes a time waster, you’ll have too many places to look when you are trying to find an old email then you’ll become unorganized yet once again & you’ll have to start over.

You could also try to file all emails that you’ve read or dealt with into one or two big folders or save them to a disc/cd, then you won’t have to wonder where you filed them. No matter which method that you use, periodically go through all your folders & delete any thing that you no longer need.

D. DON’T PRINT OUT EMAILS

If you print out your emails start now to stop this habit. It increases the amount of paper that you have to deal with, it wastes time & causes you to hold on to unnecessary emails. Filing & retrieving is quicker on your computer. You can also use contact management software like ACT, Goldmine (that way each email is linked to the name of the person that sent it to you then emails that you send are linked to the recipients record). The only time to print out an email is when it pertains to a specific project so print it out then file it with the project.

E. USEFUL SUBJECT HEADERS

Scrolling through lots of vague subject headers like “FYI”, “Meeting”, “Question” etc.. is a time waster. Put specific subject headers in all the emails that you send, when recipients reply, your header will carry over. Your stored emails will clearer subject lines. Some email programs will allow you to change the subject lines on emails that’s already been received.

F. FAST REPLIES

If you get lots of email inquiries about the same issues over & over again, create templates in your email program, for quick routine replies. You can customize them so it’s still faster than writing from scratch.

G. TO EMAIL OR NOT TO EMAIL

Email is a great time saving tool when you are sending the same message to several people or if you need a record of exactly what was discussed such as project details. Its more private than faxing, if many people share the same fax machine. You may not want to email urgent messages unless you know that the recipient is in the office & they check their email continually.Try sending a voice mail if they are out. If you need a back-and-forth conversation, try making a phone call or instant messaging. Sometimes emails waste more time than it saves.

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