Effectively managing your emails is more important than ever. With email being the primary form of communication between businesses, and even internally in large organisations, understanding how to manage your emails is integral. Even something as simple as writing emails effectively can help to clean up your inbox and reduce the number of emails in a chain!
Plan your time effectively
You know when you are at your most effective. You should ideally use your most productive time for your most important work. Thinking about how you operate and when your most effective time of the day is, will help you to plan activities into the right part of the day and when to schedule time for emails.
Always consider a part of the day for shutting your inbox – this is likely to coincide with proactive work that you need to do – if this activity requires time at your computer, keeping the inbox closed will avoid any distractions.
Turn off notifications
If you receive an alert every time you receive an email it can be distracting. If they are not necessary for your job, turn them off permanently. You don’t need notifications to communicate effectively, if you plan out your inbox and communications effectively.
Picking up emails outside the office
Most of us set up work emails on our phone as a convenient method of keeping on top of the constant flow into your mailbox. You may find that having them on a mobile device helps to manage or delete emails when you have that spare five or ten minutes whilst waiting for a car repair or other waiting times; even stuck in a long queue at the supermarket – every little helps! Equally, you may find that these spare five or ten minutes are the times that you use to re-charge – so ensure that this is the right approach for you.
Building good habits for your inbox
The 4Ds of email management is a simple yet effective time management tool that ideally should be undertaken in the following order:
Delete – Scan through your inbox for unwanted emails. Delete messages that you do not need to read or are not important. This can often be done without opening them but looking at the subject line. Be brutal.
Delegate – If it isn’t for you or if you can, delegate it. Either simply forward the email indicating that it is ‘For action’ and any timescale or if you need, copying in the sender where required.
Defer – If the email will take longer than you have defer it until later. For emails that will take longer to read or respond to, schedule them on your outlook calendar, or add this as an action on your To-Do list. Accept that due to the ever-changing environment, some tasks may become obsolete if we defer them.
Do – If the email is quick to read and reply to, then deal with it right now, even if it is not a high priority. If it takes less than 2 minutes to action, it takes longer to read and then process it later than it would to just take care of it now.
You can set up ‘Rules’ in your inbox to allow emails with specific words in the subject to automatically go to a set folder when they are received. This means that you do not need to manually file them yourself, and you can read them when it is convenient.
Other approaches include simply filing all emails by month and year. This often works well in an environment where activity tends to be cyclical.
The majority of email software has a search function, so you should be able to search for particular emails should you need them rather than set up complex filing systems.
Reduce the length of incoming emails
You can reduce the amount of emails that you receive by asking your colleagues to send you less. For example, if you regularly receive lengthy emails you can ask colleagues to send you an email no longer than two paragraphs. This will enable you to process emails quicker.
If the email sender has requested acknowledgement to the email, keep it simple: send a “Thanks” or “Ok”.
For more information on how to make the most of your virtual communications, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Sales Training International today! We can provide a diverse range of virtual sales training courses, and much more, to suit your needs!