It’s been less than 20 years!

According to the E-Commerce Times, email usage became mainstream in November of 1999.  That’s less than 20 years ago!  There are generations alive today who have never known life without email!  Since 1999, the number of email users has increased to 2.6 billion and it is estimated that the average business user will receive 96 emails per day by 2019.  Email has become an integral part of our daily business and personal lives.  Therefore, doesn’t it make good business sense to leverage email for maximum productivity and efficiency?

How much time to you spend managing your email?

A report by the McKinsey Global Institute states that high skill knowledge workers spend 28% or 11.2 hours of their work week managing email?  That’s more than one entire day dedicated to email!  And did you know that every time you interrupt what you are doing to check your email, it takes an average of 23 minutes to refocus your attention to the original task?  Travis Murdock reveals Why Email Is So Disruptive and states that over 50% of workers check their inbox more than 11 times a day.  Combine that with the 23 minutes that it takes to get back on task and that is hardly productive and efficient!  Would you agree?

Get control of what enters your inbox

opt in opt outHow many of the emails in your inbox are solicitations, SPAM, newsletters or other correspondence that do not directly affect or relate to your business bottom line?  If a large percent of the email that you receive is not directly related to your business, the first step to streamlining your inbox is to eliminate this excess.  This can be accomplished by

  • Opting-Out of Telemarketing and other Consumer Marketing lists by updating your preferences regularly.
  • Unsubscribing to newsletters that you never read, solicitations and other SPAM by scrolling through the email and clicking the Unsubscribe button.
  • Better yet, whenever you purchase a product/service or create an account of any kind, IMMEDIATELY, check your notification preferences. By default, many vendors will add your information to their subscription list.  It becomes your responsibility to change your notification preferences so that you do not receive unwanted emails.

Use appropriate subject lines and encourage others to do the same

Subject lines are extremely important and non-negotiable in the business world.  Business Insider posted a great article entitled 17 Tips for Writing an Excellent Email Subject Line.  The subject line is or should be the first thing you read to help you determine how you are going to handle the email.  A good subject line will give you enough information to decide if the email is important, urgent or neither.  Subject lines should be short, clear and specific about the topic of the email because…..

Many business professionals have folders and filters set up to manage their email.  Do you?

Regardless of what email system you favor, you should be maximizing the functionality afforded by that system to keep your inbox organized.  If you are missing orders, losing track of email correspondence or not responding in a timely manner then you will benefit from an improved process to manage your inbox.

Email systems will allow you to set up folders in which to store emails.  It is likely that you are already familiar with some of them:  Inbox, Drafts and Trash are examples of folders.  There are many strategies for the creation of folder systems within your email system.  Folders will help you sort and organize emails depending upon your specific business needs.

Folders are often used in conjunction with filters.  Filtering is a way of processing email according to criteria which you can specify.  You can filter email based on fields such as “To”, “From”, “Subject” and often according to whether the email does or does not contain words that you specify.  Once the filter criteria are set, you can further determine what happens to an email that meets the filter criteria.  Options can include, but are not limited to, automatic deletion, categorization or automatically moving the email into a specified folder.

The use of folders and filters is an excellent way to keep your email inbox organized and manageable.

Create calendar appointments and new contacts directly from your email

Take advantage of the functionality available in your email system to add new contact information directly to your contact list.  Using a CRM system?  Most CRM systems will have an Add-On or Plug-In that will connect your CRM to your email system.  Often, it’s as simple as clicking on the recipient’s information in the “From” box and you will be given the option to add that information into your contact list.

Do you need to schedule an appointment based on the content of an email?  Drag and drop the email into your calendar or click on a date within the email and you are often prompted with the option to create a new calendar event.  Copy the content from the email into the notes or description section of your calendar event and you will have all the information you need for your meeting on hand.

“Touch” your incoming email only once

Open your email and take action!  Don’t take the time to read it and then leave it there thinking “I’ll come back to that later and decide what to do with it.  Clutter is the result of delayed decisions, and your inbox is no exception!  Eliminating junk mail, using good subject lines and creating folders and filters will help you make quick and efficient decisions with your remaining email.  Create a calendar event, automatically save contact information or track email conversations and orders.  All of this can be done quickly and easily.

In my article, Time Management – Aligning Activities with Priorities, I discussed the use of the Eisenhower Matrix for decision making.  The information contained in this article is relevant to making efficient decisions and taking action with your email as well.  Remember, if you are taking the time to open your inbox and look through your email, DO SOMETHING, with it!  Don’t delay the decision making.

Email is here to stay!

Email can be a highly productive and effective form of communication, IF you use it properly as a tool and not a distraction.

The Streamlined Office has a wealth of knowledge and information to help you implement a strategy to manage your inbox and use email effectively.   We can help you learn how to use the functionality of your email system to maximize your results.  And, if your current habits are costing you in time and efficiency, we can teach you alternatives.  Are you tired of being a slave to your inbox?  Contact us!  We can help you create a system that is unique for your business and needs.  What could you do with the time you save?