Email was designed to increase productivity. However, most people have lost all control of their inboxes and allowed email to destroy their productivity. Here are 5 easy steps you can take to regain control of your inbox, so that you can be more productive at work:
- Pick up the phone. If you find yourself spending more than 5 minutes writing an email, that’s a sign you should be making a phone call instead. Email should only be used for administrative matters, not for anything open to interpretation.
- Save templates. Create a folder in your email system for “email templates” or “common emails” and save copies of any emails that you send frequently. Then, rather than having to re-write the same email 100 times, you can simply copy and paste the template and update whatever changes are necessary. I have templates for emails sent to new networking contacts, templates sent to prospects after initial sales calls, templates for people signing up for my e-newsletter, and so on. Saves me a TON of time. Just make sure you personalize each email template before sending!
- Create email folders and USE them. Create folders for different categories of messages. For example, you could classify emails by client, by project, and so on. Rather than keeping all emails in your “inbox,” this makes it much more manageable to find emails later on, and it prevents your inbox from looking full. I also have an email folder entitled “read later.” Whenever I receive an e-newsletter or a message from one of my LinkedIn groups, I move it to my “read later” folder, which I only check on Fridays or weekends.
- Use the “delete” button. Save the last message in an email thread and delete all prior emails. Clean out your inbox weekly and delete any messages not worth saving; over 90% all emails fall into this category.
- Keep email CLOSED most of the day. Do NOT keep your email system open all day. I used to do this, and I’d drop whatever I was doing every time an email popped up. My clients and colleagues loved the fact that I often replied in less than 30 seconds, but I’d constantly get interrupted. Even worse, if/when people did not hear back from me within 15 minutes, they would call me to see why I had not responded yet. I had conditioned everyone around me to expect rapid responses. Keep your email CLOSED most of the day, and check it every hour, or a few times each day. If people really need to reach you, they should pick up the phone and call you! Otherwise, they should be prepared to wait up to 24 hours for a reply.
Take control of your inbox, and your stress will decrease, and your productivity will go through the roof!
P.S. Please comment below if you like this article, or if you have another idea on how to use your email inbox to be more productive! To learn more about my speaking availability for The 2011 Dream Job College Tour, please visit www.IdealizeNow.com or send an email to Pete@IdealizeNow.com.
-President of Idealize Enterprises
-Creator of The Dream Job College Tour
–Creator of The Washington Wizards’ Sports Careers Day