If you feel like you spend too much time on email, you’re not alone. Almost everyone feels the same way. That’s why it’s so important to learn how to be as productive as possible when it comes to handling email. Here are five tips to help you do just that.
1- Automate your emails.
If you’re sending a lot of the same emails to clients, you may be able to add them to email list management software like Constant Contact or MailChimp. Then you can automate a series of emails using the autoresponder function.
Another way to automate your emails is to set up inbox rules so that certain emails are automatically filed into the folders you’ve set up. For example, if you get a monthly email for a recurring bill payment, you could send it straight to your bills folder if you don’t want to read it. This will save time in the morning when you sort through the pile of email that’s sent overnight.
2- Set a timer.
Make a habit of checking your email only once or twice in the day. Plan those times on your calendar and set a timer to stop if you need to. This employs time batching, one of the most productive ideas in time management. It’s unproductive to stop and read each email exactly as it comes into your box, so setting times restructures the way you work with email for the better.
3- Create draft email answers of your ten most frequently asked questions.
Do you get a lot of the same questions over and over again in your email? Don’t start from scratch each time you craft an answer. Start with a draft of a previous answer, make it generic, and save it in your drafts folder. When you get that question again, copy and paste the draft and customize it as necessary.
Repeat this for your top ten (or twenty) most-asked questions or emails that you send. You’ll shave minutes off each email reply from now on.
4- Learn the email software you’re using.
Sure, everyone pretty much knows how to send, reply to, and forward emails. Most even know how to add attachments. But what else do you know and use on a regular basis?
If you are tech-savvy, then simply spend some time reviewing your email settings and functions. There may be some you discover that will make your day.
If you don’t feel very comfortable with all things technical, then sign up for a formal course, preferably in person, where you have a real human teacher that can answer all your questions. It will be a day well spent.
5- Set up folders.
Folders, labels, or categories in your email software are all good ways to segment email so that it can be processed in a particular order. Your folders might be by priority, client, service type, or something else. In any case, it’s easier on your brain to answer all questions from one client or topic at a time than it is to ping-pong back and forth.
Use folders when you are complete with an email but want to save it for future reference. That way, your inbox will stay cleaner and emptier.
6- Use the search function.
Using the search function liberally in your email software when you need to find an old email will help you save tons of time.
7- Get a new email address if your current email address is too spammy.
You may be losing the spam battle with email addresses that have been used for more than a few years or that have been hacked. If so, the best solution might just be to switch to a new email.
Choose a good email address in the first place by staying away from email addresses that hackers can guess, like email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com. Instead use firstname.lastname@example.org or a version of your first and last names.
Try these email productivity tips to help you spend less time on email while still getting the job done.