Tired of spending large chunks of your day mired in email?
Try scheduling specific time blocks for checking your mail. Three times a day – maybe only twice – should do it. Put these check-ins on your daily calendar. Guard those blocks as jealously as you would any other appointment.
Another tip: to get better and quicker email replies, end your messages the right way.
“Use a strong closing line to finish off the email that gives the reader a clear summary of the email and what to do next (call to action),” writes Nicole Donald on the Moore Legal Technology Blog. “This can be the difference between getting your task done and having to chase repeatedly in the future.”
9 Tips for Email Mastery
Here are some other email suggestions:
- Treat email like snail mail. Picture this scenario: your postal carrier delivers a single piece of mail – whether an important document, a super-saver pak, junk mail, whatever – every few minutes at all hours of the day and night. When it arrives, you stop what you’re doing to open the envelope and read what’s inside. Ridiculous, right? You’d never get anything else done. And yet, this is how we treat email. “Even worse, imagine opening a piece of mail, reading it, closing it back up, returning it to the postman and saying, ‘Give it back to me in a little bit,’” writes Peter Bregman, author of 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done, in this Entrepreneur article. “That’s essentially what we’re doing when we read an email on the go without time to respond.”
- Nail it with your subject line. Don’t be cute, vague or coy. The subject line “Hi” says absolutely nothing about what the message is about. Business or personal? Urgent or whimsical? A clear subject line shows consideration for the recipient. It also increases the likelihood that your message will be promptly read and answered.
- Pick up the phone. We’ve all been there. A message prompts a reply, which prompts another message, and another reply, and so the chain begins. Heaven forbid if there are multiple parties on the thread. To save time, break the chain by calling the recipient. A two-minute chat could save two hours of avoidable back-and-forth.
- Get the most out of your email service. “Take a couple of hours, maybe on a weekend or on a less hectic day, to understand your email platform better,” suggests CaseFleet’s Niraj Ranjan Rout. “Get to know the advanced features and shortcuts. Consider Gmail. You would be surprised how many Gmail users are not aware of the many features it has or the shortcuts that can save time.”
- Set inbox rules and filters. Use these to create a system for sorting your messages. Dan Ariely, professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University, uses four different categories: Now, Daily, Weekly and One Day, with inbox rules for which senders go into each section, according to Hayden Field in Entrepreneur.
- Turn off alerts and notifications. If you check your email whenever you hear a “ding,” you may find yourself reading the same message several times before responding. This is not good. Your goal is to read once, respond quickly.
- Delegate. Assign a team member to screen your emails and indicate which ones need immediate attention.
- Invest in email management software. A good application will handle email monitoring, archiving, routing, response management, spam blocking, data recovery, indexing, signature management and more. Here is a ranking and comparison of 10 popular programs.
- Unsubscribe. Scrub your inbox of unwanted newsletters and solicitations.
What email tips would you add to this list?