Reading emails is a time-consuming task.
When it comes to important communications for business and personal use, email is still king. And when you own a business, it’s vital that you find ways to be productive in every aspect of your company.
Many businesses receive anything up to hundreds of thousands of emails per day from customers, business partners, employees, coworkers, and family.
Business email addresses are delegated throughout the company so that each person who needs to be “in the know” has access to information, memos, and their specific department in the company. Imagine if it was possible to make all these people more productive!
Email applications offer solutions to allow you to boost email productivity across your company.
How can you do that?
6 Ways to Achieve Optimal Email Productivity
Email management options
How many folders do you really need to better manage your email? Here’s an example of folders you can use to manage emails as they come into the server.
- Inbox – All emails, except spam/junk come into your inbox.
- Archive – Archiving emails help you store important information for future reference.
- Review/Defer – The review folder will hold emails that you need to review, but don’t have any other action required.
- Action/Urgent – You can name this folder as “Urgent” or “Action”, but this folder is so you know the email requires your attention. Usually these emails haven’t been addressed yet.
- Sent – Sent emails are saved to your sent folder, so you have a copy of said emails.
- Junk/Spam – Spam/junk emails are filtered to this folder.
Set aside time for follow-up emails
Every business owner should set aside time every day to handle emails that need a follow-up action. It should take no more than an hour or so every day to handle these emails. Use your email calendar function to ensure these get done.
Organisation is key. This is one good reason to setup folders so you can quickly and easily find your follow-up/action/urgent emails.
Turn your email app off
Part of managing your work time and email productivity requires that you shut off your email program for a period of time, to prevent being disturbed. There are times when you will need to deal with complicated issues related to your business where you need to be free of distractions.
Email can be a big distraction, so turn it off when handling complex and important business matters. Meetings, interviews, and when you’re handling follow-up emails are times when you need to turn off your email program to focus on each task. Multitasking is a myth when it comes to giving something your undivided attention.
Email respect rules
Your time isn’t the only time that’s valuable. Other people’s time is just as valuable as yours, so be respectful of that time. Before sending an email or reply to an email, consider if the person really needs it. You might be better off calling them to your office or talking to them on the phone.
Another way to respect other people’s time is to categorise the email in the subject line. Tell them if the email is important by marking it urgent, and/or by stating right in the subject line and the email body that it’s “urgent”. You can let them know if it’s just for their information, if they need to take immediate action, or if it’s something they need to consider before replying.
Process your emails
How often do you open, read, and close your email messages? That’s considered skimming them, not processing them. Skimming emails isn’t efficient and you need to be efficient at work. Take time to process your emails.
If they require immediate action, do it immediately to avoid procrastination. Take the time to file every email in its proper folder. Also, don’t empty your spam/junk folder until you at least skim the subject lines.
The 4 D’s of efficient email processing
When processing your emails, the 4 D’s, delete, delegate, do, and defer, will help you properly process them in an efficient and effective manner.
- Delete it – If the email isn’t important to your daily operations or you aren’t going to do anything with it; delete it.
- Delegate it – If the email is something someone else can handle, delegate it. Forward the email with a short message and remember to tell the person to send you a reply when it’s complete. The delegated email can now be moved into the archive folder or you can delete it if it’s not that important, or it doesn’t need to be saved.
- Do it – It doesn’t take more than a couple of minutes to determine if an email requires an action. Complete the action, then archive or delete the message.
- Defer it – If you encounter an email that cannot be deleted, but that will take more than a couple of minutes to handle it, defer it. Deferred emails can be sent in your review or defer folder. This is for emails that aren’t time-sensitive or that require more information.
These tips for streamlining your email process are helpful for improving your overall business productivity. These tips are designed for people who don’t need to be readily available during work hours to answer questions or deal with issues.
The benefits of making your email more efficient include stress and anxiety reduction at work, higher productivity, and feeling more in control of your email and business.