One of the many hassles of operating a business is the notorious email inbox. Any business person knows that emails can flood in quickly and become an overwhelming task for the day. What makes it more difficult is that we spend the time on emails that we should be spending on our online marketing strategies. But you can’t just ignore your inbox, since it is also a crucial part of business. The solution lies in your ability to organize your email and time properly so that you can accomplish your work for the day.
Email by the bulk
The first thing you need to do is get your email organized. Clear it up by filtering and setting up multiple email inbox buckets. Here, you can sort your mail automatically so that you can respond to emails accordingly. There will likely be immediate responses, long-term response, and articles such as newsletters and updates that you would enjoy reading, but there should be time set aside for that later. And something to keep in mind is that you shouldn’t be afraid to utilize the “delete” button. The majority of emails may not even need a response. Perhaps Joe emailed you a “Sounds like a plan” message to respond and agree with you, but it’s not likely you’ll need to respond back to it. Can you imagine if you both kept saying “Okay, goodbye?” There is a point where the conversation must end, and you have to be ready to do that. This is also your chance to be considerate of other email boxes, since others are likely just as overwhelmed as you.
Time to clean up
Don’t allow your email inboxes to become overwhelming. Practice the childhood art of “Clean up at the end of the day.” Even if you don’t answer it, sort it and file it so that your email inbox is empty. This prevents the clutter than can occur very easily if your inboxes begin to pile up. It also sets you up for the next day or work session. Here, it helps to organize your time and set a time limit for answering your emails. Work fills the time it’s assigned, so by limiting the amount of time you have to address your emails, you’ll be able to complete more in shorter amounts of time. When the time is up, stop answering and leave the rest for tomorrow. If you don’t limit the time you have to answer emails, you may find yourself reading and writing into the wee hours of the night. Keep your inboxes clean every day and practice the art of time management to avoid letting your email answering sessions become a time consuming project.
Time management is extremely valuable to organizing your entire day. Email sessions should be no different. When you do assign a certain time to address your email inbox, avoid trying to multitask during the session. If you try to make phone calls or handle a project at the same time, you’ll consume your email-dedicated time, which can allow your inbox to back up and continue to consume more time during your busy day.
Clear and concise
Remember, you don’t have to write a full essay to respond to your emails. Limit yourself to a few short sentences that address and answer the email. You should be able to limit yourself to no more than three sentences to avoid tangents and word-fluff. Time is important to everyone, including your email recipients. You don’t want to spend lengthy amounts of time writing, and others don’t always have the time to read a long, lengthy letter. And, realistically, people don’t read. They skim over to get the “just” so focus your response so that all the relevant and most important information is included. If an answer might take lengthy or multiple emails to respond with, consider picking up the phone and providing the answer directly so you don’t spend all your time typing. This is especially helpful if answers have variables or something might not be clear. A direct conversation can clear up any misconceptions and solve the problem in a matter of minutes. You won’t have to continuously message each other to accomplish what a quick phone call can do. By avoiding a game of “email tag,” you’ll save both you and your colleague some incredibly valuable time that can be spent on more practical business projects.
By organizing your inboxes with filters and buckets, setting the proper amount of time aside for email sessions, and writing short but clear answers, you can cut the fluff out of your email’s time consuming tendencies so that you can get back to work and accomplish your goals.