This week I want to talk about emails. They are the bane of many business peoples’ lives. Often they’re the first thing we look at in the morning and the last thing at night, whether out of necessity or addiction!
Checking your emails throughout the day may seem like an effective way of keeping your inbox at a manageable level, but the constant interruption can lead to poor productivity.
Although ‘inbox-zero’ may be an unrealistic goal for most of us, having some sort of routine, procedure or schedule for managing your emails will make you more organised and help to eliminate stress.
So today I’m going to let you in on a few insider tips so that you can manage your emails like a VA!
This is easier said than done, but well worth it. Stick to set times once or twice during the day for reviewing your email so that you are not distracted from important projects. Doing this will condense the time you spend responding to messages and will improve your focus on the task at hand.
Depending on the email system that you are using (GMail, Outlook etc.) you may call it labelling or filing, but the result is the same: organisation. Here at Boost, we use Google Apps, so it’s all about labels for us.
Create labels (or folders) for the main categories of message that you receive so that you can retrieve things quickly and easily. If you want to be super-organised, you could also create labels for the ‘action status’ of the email. In other words, does it need action, is it pending, or is it done and dusted? This will enable quicker prioritisation.
This is a crucial step that comes after organising your inbox with labels or folders. A lot of people are nervous about deleting emails, so will simply accumulate a mammoth inbox over time. This is not good email management practice!
Once an email has been dealt with, get it out of your inbox (and consciousness!) by archiving it. This basically tells your email system to remove it from the inbox and store it in the appropriate label/folder (which you assigned to it earlier), but it is still searchable if you want to find it later.
To manage emails efficiently, it is important to drown out the noise so that you are left with only the emails that really need your attention. Set up filters for recurring emails so that they are automatically labelled, or even skip the inbox. This is not advisable for categories of emails that you cannot afford to miss, but if you regularly receive promotional emails or newsletters then this is a great way of filing them away automatically for review later.
Another great way of keeping your emails organised is to set up an application to convert emails into to do lists. Apps such as Google Tasks and ToDoist can help you with this and they will automatically synchronise with your mobile device so that you will have your to do list with you wherever you are.
If you find it difficult to keep consistent routines when it comes to managing your email, perhaps it’s time to delegate this task to a virtual assistant? A VA can tackle all of the above stages of processing, and can even respond on your behalf using FAQ answers that they work with you to develop.
These are just some simple, easy-to-implement email management procedures and practices that you can adopt so that your day is not ruled by your inbox!
It is said that most people spend half of their business day using email in counter-productive ways. By organising your email inbox so that you are only reviewing and responding to exactly what you need to you will create more time so that you can concentrate on important projects that will help you to achieve your goals and grow your business.