7 Ways to Make Your Emails More Productive
Replying to emails has become a routine, so much that we rarely pay attention to how much time we waste browsing through incoming messages daylong.
To illustrate the scope of the issue, let’s just say that it has been calculated that a single incoming email disrupting our schedule results in the present task being put on hold for average 23 minutes and 15 seconds. Scary, isn’t it?
Dealing with the issue proves to be painstaking for many, because some emails require immediate action. Still, that may well be “the glass is half empty” point of view.
The very fact that there is some type of classification means that where there are important messages, there are also those that can be postponed, right? Let’s deal with them first!
1. Auto-Responding Is Godsent
Automatic responses are the simplest way to deal with all kinds of email, including important ones. Busy people often have a number of auto-responses set in place, ready to be used in accordance with their schedule.
Common examples include responses containing information about your availability and the time of the expected response.
Auto-responses need to be short and concise, listing key information in the opening line. Avoid unnecessary pleasantries: they are as likely to waste recipient’s time as much as yours.
Tip: If you tend to get lots of similar emails, use auto-responses in the same way you’d use templates (e.g., inquiries about your business’ services may be covered by a template providing an overview of the business offer).
2. Check Your Inbox at a Predetermined Schedule
Yes, you read that right. Make a schedule for checking emails. A good schedule seamlessly fits with your daily tasks and doesn’t keep you stressed over what you’re missing.
Unless an urgent situation arises, two time daily slots will do the trick: one in the morning and the other towards the end of your working hours or some time afterwards.
Tip: Always bring your inbox count down to zero (see trick #5 for added optimization) and limit the time for checking emails (see trick #6).
3. Say Farewell to Email Notifications
It is indeed frightening how addicted to modern technologies we have become. Does the image of a family gathering come to mind, with everyone present looking at their mobile device? If it doesn’t, you’re one in a million! The major disruptor in this scenario is an incoming message!
Social interactions aside, all kinds of business tasks are likely to suffer in the same way due to the biggest culprit: email notifications. If you have auto-responses set in place, turn them off. That isn’t to say you should forget about incoming emails altogether…. simply make your schedule more effective by choosing when to address them.
Tip: Turning off email notifications often coincides with opting out of social network notifications. Since social networks are another huge time consumer, they should be also checked at a predetermined schedule.
4. Whitelists and Blacklists to the Rescue
The option to create safe address lists is an integral part of all reputable email clients, so don’t miss out on the opportunity. The step is not only about filtering out spam email. It is about listing all important emails in a browsable manner. That, in itself, will spare you the pains of going through all emails to rate them by importance.
Tip: Create labels. Nothing makes the ease of browsing more apparent than familiar keywords and colors.
5. Make Use of Folders
Organizing emails is quite similar to organizing your computer. The better things are sorted out, the faster your turnover becomes. Creating folders to keep your emails in check and easily find important pieces of information at all times is just the thing to boost your email productivity considerably.
Tip: Don’t overdo it. Large numbers of folders are likely to overlap, so always optimize.
6. Limit Time to Check and Respond to Emails to Up to Two Hours
Keeping your response time limited is the first rule to stepping things up permanently. A reasonable timeframe for dealing with daily emails is up to two hours. If you’ve allocated two time slots for checking messages, twice an hour should do the trick.
Tip: To further boost your email efficiency, address important emails first. In case of generic ones, use a template.
7. Keep Responses and Subject Lines Short and to the Point
Keeping responses and subject lines short and concise is the first rule of efficient email correspondence. To streamline the process, set some rules. Some good examples include:
- Limiting the body of the text to three to five sentences
- Creating and using signatures as needed (e.g., for clients, family, friends…)
- Stating the points clearly and immediately
- Stating the topic in the subject line
- Redoing subject lines of forwarded messages
Tip: To boost your efficiency when it comes to long threads, always state crucial information on top.
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