Weeding through and responding to email is one of the most time consuming activities we might have on a daily basis. When I was VP of Sales at ADP, between snail mail, email and voice mail, I could spend all day with mail management. Today, it is primarily email that bogs us down and the most frustrating thing about it is even if we get through all of it at the end of the day, the next day the inbox is filled again.
I finally created a system to deal with the never-ending onslaught of inbound communications that was so effective; we now have our clients duplicating the process for themselves. Here are 11 tips that we hope will help you in journey toward email freedom:
- Use Outlook or a comparable email manager.
- Use the DELETE key – if it is a non-personal bulk email and you don’t know the sender – you don’t have to read it.
- Sort your inbox by whom it is from or by topic, so you can delete messages in a string that are captured in most recent message.
- Unsubscribe to newsletters – unless it is implementable, productive, educational information, networking partner, client or prospect – you don’t need it clogging you inbox.
- Create folders – the key to being organized is knowing where to put something and knowing where to retrieve it.
- Create a To Do and/or Follow-up folder and be sure to go through it every day.
- Create Rules – perhaps you get a lot newsletters, mass messages or unimportant emails from a specific person or organization that you choose not to delete – set up a rule, it can get flagged and sent directly to a folder for later – and it doesn’t get in the way of the “priority” emails.
- Use auto-reminders and follow up flags in email can be extremely helpful.
- Templates – often we write the same thing over and over again so setting up templates can be very helpful. If you are using Outlook you can create an email and save it as a template to your desktop. You can now just click on it to open up – and you can use it over and over again without have to re-write it. If you don’t use Outlook, create the verbiage in Word and save it in an easy place to retrieve it. Another option is to save the for the message in contacts with the name of the email topic– then cutting and pasting on demand can save you a lot of time. Lastly, check out – TextExpander it isn’t free, but it may be the best investment you can make.
- Set aside certain times during the day when you can check and reply to your email – you can even schedule the time on your calendar.
- Color-Code and Categorize – waiting for reply; meeting to schedule; prospect; etc. Categories can be huge time savers.
You will be pleasantly surprised how just a little organization can make a daunting task not so bad.