Managing emails effectively is essential to any business. Having your e-mail alert constantly on can have a huge impact on your daily productivity, and the next spammy message is already on its way.
So what to do when your email is bursting with messages, the phone is ringing and you're working on a project due within the next three hours? Here are 3 easy techniques you can implement on the go for better e-mail management and improved daily work flow.
Most e-mail programs have built-in filter options. Taking advantage of these helps you improve the overall e-mail management and processing. You can set up filters for sorting, deleting, highlighting or archiving e-mails, or use them as a tool to improve the performance of built-in spam management options.
Here are a few free guides and resources to help you through the process of setting up e-mail filters with Outlook 2007, Mozilla Thunderbird or Gmail:
- Outlook 2007: Using Rules to Organize Your Email on Uwec.edu
- Message filters in Thunderbird on MozillaZine
- How to Set Up Message Filters in Thunderbird on Makeuseof
- How to filter your Gmail like a pro on Mashable
2. The single touch rule
The most powerful e-mail management trick I implemented is what I call the single touch rule. Basically, every e-mail is prioritised and processed as it comes in. To maximise efficiency, I check e-mails at set times and allow 10-15 minutes to take care of incoming mail.
If the message includes working files, reference materials or any other work-related attachment, I download them straight away in the relevant job folder, then archive the message. This helps me both decluttering the inbox and having working files at hand when starting off a new project.
For e-mails requiring a quick response, I take the time to do it right away. If the message requires me to do some research or think some more before replying I mark it with a coloured label, and I get back to it before the working day ends.
In any case, most if not all messages are processed within the same business day - which helps you starting the following day at ease.
Automated notifications and subscribed updates/newsletters can sum up to a very large number of incoming mail in no time. To improve e-mail management, I recommend adjusting notification options aiming at reducing them to a minimum.
Freelancers might want to keep job boards posting alerts on as immediate notifications, but blog and social network updates can easily be reduced to weekly notifications.
Also, make sure to actually unsubscribe from irrelevant newsletters and notifications. A good rule of thumb to determine whether you really want or need to keep subscriptions: if you delete a monthly newsletter 2-3 times in a row without reading through it, it's probably time to unsubscribe.
What is your secret recipe to effective e-mail management?
Please comment on this post and share your tips.
Images: Geralt, Pixabay