Email is great and saves a lot of time. You don’t have to wait days for someone to get a message from you. You can use it to be more organized, set tasks, and more. But email can also get out of control and suck up a lot of time if you’re not organized.
Use Rules, Filters, Labels and Folders
Remember that simple is better than complicated so don’t go too crazy with these, but do create labels and/or rules and filters to automatically help you organize your mail better.
Read Emails and Act Immediately
When you open an email, take care of it immediately. Read it, then act. If it requires nothing, delete it; if it has something interesting you want to note, use a note-taking program to save it. If it has a task, copy and paste into your to-do list and calendar.
Set Specific Times for Checking Your Email
Don’t keep your email notifications on all day long so that you’re constantly dealing with email. Instead, choose specific times during the day to check email, at the very least sometime in the morning, after lunch, and about an hour before the close of business. Let people know your schedule so they can plan accordingly.
Create Separate Email Addresses
The great thing about email addresses is that in most cases you’re not limited to how many you can have. Don’t go nuts, but do create a separate email for unimportant information such as business that requires an email sign-up to view information, or non-relevant newsletters. Separate customer service addresses are good too.
Be Free with the Delete Key
It’s tempting to save all those cool newsletters with great points and things to learn, but the truth is, you’re not likely to ever read them again. Use your note-taking tool to keep the most important points, and then delete.
Create a Swipe File or Hot Keys with Automatic Replies
If you find yourself saying the same things over and over again, which is not uncommon, create a swipe file or hot keys that enable you to answer those questions again and again. Another way is to create a FAQ on your website and link to that specific answer.
Keep Email Replies Short and Simple
You don’t want to write really long emails to anyone. If you do, people will get confused and not really understand your answer. At the most, an email answer should be about three or four paragraphs. If you include bullet points it will be easier for the recipient to act on.
Copy Tasks to Your Calendar Immediately
Use your calendar to its fullest advantage by copying and pasting anything with a date in it to your calendar immediately. If it’s a task, copy and paste to your project management system, too, in order to stay on track with your activities.
A final idea is to outsource anything that doesn’t need your specific personal attention to someone else. That way you don’t even need to deal with it. Using these tips and tricks can help you manage your emails so that they don’t take up too much of your time and effort. Taming the email monster will pay off in many ways and give you back more time each day to use on more important tasks.