I used to get stuck answering emails on a daily basis. I woke up in the morning, brewed coffee, and began tackling incoming queries. After answering all of the emails in my inbox I felt accomplished and relieved. But the next morning the cycle repeated. I felt like the main character in Groundhog Day.
For many professionals, trying to keep up with email can be an exhausting challenge. Today I decided to share some wisdom on how you can keep your email under control, save time, and increase your overall productivity. These tips are short, sweet, and straight to the point. Just like your emails should be. 😉
Have more than one account
You have probably already done this, but in case you’re running a little behind the times, it’s vital that you get up to speed. Create an email you plan to use specifically for offers and newsletters. This will be your dummy email address. You can use this whenever you want to get a sweet deal, free download, etc.
Next, you should create an email address specifically for your friends and family. After that, you should create another email address that you plan on using professionally.
If you run a website or a business, be sure to apply the same method. Create separate email addresses for general inquiries, advertising, support, etc.
If you hate signing in and out of your accounts, search for an email management software on Google.
Manage your notifications
Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, and all the other social networks out there can be extremely useful for your business. However, when you get messages every day saying that someone has commented on your post, or is following you on Twitter, you can get distracted pretty easily. These notifications add up quickly. To resolve this issue, turn off all email notifications for these services.
Create a FAQ
If you run an online business, you should set up a FAQ. Answering the same question is a waste of your time. What major concerns do your customers or visitors have? Address those common questions.
Words matter. Get to the point. Be clear and upfront about your questions, directions, and answers. If you have multiple questions or inquiries, be sure to included them into one email. This will reduce confusion and follow up questions seeking additional clarity.
Don’t leave it for tomorrow
Try to finish answering every opened email today. Setting it aside will eventually create a snowball effect.
If somebody sent you an important file, invoice, or any other document, let them know that you received it. It only takes a second to do so, e.g. “Thanks,” “Got it,” “Will do,” etc. This will let the sender know that you received the email and don’t need additional information or context.
You might have signed up to various newsletters in the past. Now they’ve become spam that you constantly have to delete. Take a second to scroll all the way down and find the unsubscribe link. Every legitimate newsletter will have an “unsubscribe” link. If you don’t see a link, then mark it as spam. A great tool for this is Unroll.me.
Set a time frame
Let’s face it, e-mail can be extremely distracting. When you are constantly checking your e-mail, it is easy to lose track of time. To prevent this from happening, set two or three 30 minute time slots to check your email. One could be right after lunch and the other before you leave work. It’s completely up to you to decided when you want to answer your emails.
Manage your replies
This one is very important. Never ask an open-ended question in your e-mail if you can avoid it. See to it that your questions demand a response.
Revert to 1980
That’s right, pick up the phone. If you’re in an e-mail thread that is just out of control because of miscommunication, lack of understanding or you just can’t come to a reasonable agreement, pick up the phone and call.
Feel free to delete
It’s simple, when I don’t find an e-mail important enough to respond to, I delete it. If you do need to respond, be sure to act upon on it immediately.
Declare email bankruptcy
If thing are out of control completely to the point where you’re drowning in email, then it’s time to declare email bankruptcy. This means that you’re going to delete every single thing in your inbox. Before you bite the bullet, send out an email to all of your contacts. Let them know you’ve just declared email bankruptcy.
Bcc the list of people you were never going to get back to in the first place too. Tell them that you’re starting over. Any person who’s still waiting for your reply is most likely over it ( if it was truly urgent they would’ve followed up). This decision may not be a wise one, but if you’re constantly stressed then it’s totally worth it.