How to Keep Your Corporate Email Under Control
How many times have you opened your email and saw that you have about 1000 (or more!) unread messages? Many of you probably experienced this feeling of shock and frustration, when it seems like eternity would be not enough to answer all that correspondence. What majority of people do in this situation? Right, they're turning a blind eye on it. Or they just looking at the top area of their inbox, because that's the most recent stuff.
But don't worry, for every problem there is a solution. Love it or hate it - electronic correspondence is still a wonderful tool, it's very convenient and dependable. Electronic letters have lots of advantages: they are much more accessible than physical paper, they are cost-effective, any documents that used to be sent through the mail at regular postage rates can be sent digitally. The trick here is to know how to keep it under control. That's what most of us are challenged with, day in and day out.
Today Internet is full of rumors that email is dying and is being replaced with messaging apps and social networks like Facebook and Twitter. However, almost everyone I know agrees that emailing is not going anywhere for at least 10 years from now, so we just have to learn to deal with it. Let's discuss some tips and tactics that can help you tame that time-consuming beast in a busy corporate world.
Tip#1 - Schedule A Time For The Email Management
One of the greatest email management techniques is to actually manage your emails. Most of the people don't take any time to do that, and after some time it becomes this giant snowball that we are unable to stop. So, the first thing to start with is to create a follow up time.
For example, schedule a couple of hours in a week for the management process. If you don't have this amount of time, you can carve out 20-30 minutes every day to deal with your correspondence. If you need more time than that, then you may try to sort your electronic messages more quickly and/or say no to some of your daily things.
Having a reserved time specifically to manage email, which is also responding to them is crucial. And you can't compromise on that time. There's a certain amount of discipline in making this happen. It doesn't have to be Monday at 9.00, although it's a pretty good idea. Earlier in the week is a whole lot better, and we all know that.
Tip#2 - Setup A Filtering Process
A lot of people think that reading and responding to email is managing process. They spend huge amount of time on irrelevant or not useful for them or their business messages. What managing emails actually means is not reading it, but evaluating its importance and taking corresponding action on it.
You need to understand the level of importance of your online mail. We tend to think about every single message as equal because they all look the same. If we compare this to the physical world, you'll see that when the person opens their mailbox, they see small advertisement brochures and letters, which immediately have completely different level of importance.
Equally, you need to understand what's in your inbox is a marketing brochure and what is a letter. Statistically, about 10% of your email is vital [Tweet this]. The rest of them are insignificant or unrelated. So, here's what you can do:
For example, you can select all your messages in your incoming folder, then deselect what's important and archive the rest without even opening it. Especially, after certain amount of time we can be pretty sure what subject line is a click bait and what's not. If you already know that you're not going to use that information there's no point in opening it at all. It should just go to trash. Archive, clean, remove it or copy to another folder, but do not leave it in your inbox.
Not opening insignificant mail is one of the biggest things you can do right away. Try to develop a process that will help you to skip things that are completely not worthy of your notice.
Let's say if you got an email that's about a project that you'll be working on for the next 3 weeks, and you know that this is just information you need for that product and you won't need to answer right away. We get that kind of messages in the corporate environment all the time. You can promptly reply to the person with something like "Thank you, I got your information". Very polite but brief.
FossLook has a feature of converting emails to electronic documents. You need to drag this e-mail to your "Incoming" folder and the system converts in into a document. Once you've done that, open this document, navigate to the "Recurring tasks" tab and create a Recurring task that will remind you to return to this document later.
That's it! you've accomplished a big thing. That information now stored somewhere other than your inbox, because it is not a place to store something, it's a place to correspond. Electronic mail and FossLook is a great pair. You store information in FossLook, and you correspond in your inbox.
Tip#3 - Turn Off Automatic Notifications
Email notifications encourage immediate half-hearted skimming, but they don't remind you to respond. Most folks either forget about it entirely and then complain "Oh my God, I never replied to this..." or they reply to it immediately, barely scanning email at all. Both of these outcomes are terrible.
There's a couple of things you can do about this:
- Stop reading it on your phone when you're in a public transport or in a meeting, somewhere where you can't answer properly. Quickly reviewing it is not an action that responds to the other person in any way. Don't just read it and then do nothing with it.
- If you received an e-mail and don't have time for it now, you can Immediately mark it as unread again.
- Turn off you entire phone notifications and schedule an alarm for the time in your day, when you'll be able to give it a proper attention.
- Use online tools like "Boomeranggmail", "Followupthen" and "Streak" which can schedule your mail to be sent automatically at the perfect time for you. Those are the services that can have a great value for you, if you're a busy person.
Tip#4 - Get a VA (Virtual Assistant)
At some point it might be wise to have someone as an assistant. You can get assistant at a specific times of overload, it doesn't have to be very long-term commitment. Sometimes you definitely know you're going to have overload at certain seasonal time, and having someone to help you with that definitely might be wise.
Virtual collaborators can provide you service whenever you need it according to your schedule, you only pay for time spent on your project and work can be done outside normal business hours.
You can find a lot of qualified people at The International Virtual Assistants Association. Other than that, just do a Google search and you'll definitely find someone suitable for your needs.
Don't let email eat your billable hours. You can do this by making sure that you're saying "No" to some things, letting some things go. But remember, sometimes if things are muddy or unclear it's just easier to make a phone call than waste countless hours emailing each other.