It’s a New Year and time to follow email habits that will make the management of your email easier and more efficient. Email is one of my biggest challenges. I always get more email than I can reasonably handle every day. Here are some habits that I work at maintaining. When I follow these I am in much more control and feel so much better.
Email Habit #1: Be disciplined about email review.
Review your inbox for new emails regularly but not constantly. Set aside fixed times in your day to read email. Let clients know your email policy.
Email Habit #2: Don’t respond to every message.
Many are just informative, so read and file or delete as necessary.
Email Habit #3: Keep your emails short.
Reply promptly and keep your emails short and to the point. You’ll likely get short and to the point emails in return.
Keeping your emails short doesn’t mean deleting the chain of email replies that preceded your response. The recipient should always have access to this background information in order to consider your message in context. Change your email preferences in your software program if previous messages are automatically deleted.
Email Habit #4: File, flag, delete.
After you have responded to emails that require attention, use rules to avoid leaving emails sitting idly in your inbox. When an email pertains to an ongoing matter or conversation, file it in an appropriate folder. If it’s not something you’ll need delete it.
You can also use different colored “flags” to remind yourself that certain emails still require action. For example, red flags could be used to indicate messages that require additional follow-up on your part.
It’s helpful to keep your inbox as close to empty as possible. If left to accumulate daily, your email inbox can quickly become a graveyard where important information gets buried. Repeat the filing, flagging, and deleting—or whatever archiving system you prefer—throughout the day.
Email Habit #5: Send less to receive less.
One way to reduce email volume is to send fewer emails yourself. Assume for every five emails you send, you receive three in response. Pause before you decide to “Send.” If there’s a 60 percent response rate—even if those responses are just a quick comment or thank you—you’re facing more self-induced clutter and time lost processing it.
Email Habit #6: Opt out.
Opt out of various vendor and organization email updates to reduce your email volume. Once upon a time, you subscribed to these newsletters and announcements because their content interested you, but if the information is no longer of value or the volume has become overwhelming, unsubscribe. At the very least use “rules” to have informational emails filed automatically in folders that you can read when you have more time.
Email Habit #7: Always respond to client emails first! When you do a good job at the first six habits it will be easier to put your client’s emails first.