Managing E-mail to Reduce Stress

[typography font=”Myriad Pro” size=”28″ size_format=”px” color=”#9e0909″]MANAGING EMAIL[/typography]

[typography font=”Myriad Pro” size=”20″ size_format=”px”]The Constant Challenge[/typography]

Managing E-mails
Image by Thomas Barthelet

Practically everyone in business struggles with the challenge of managing email. There seems to be an endless flow of those convenient (albeit annoying) little messages.  In the beginning most people fell into the trap of trying to read every message – but the majority of us realized that to make that effort is a huge time waster. If you have not yet come to that realization, trust me on this, and start being more selective in what you choose to read.

Or – you may be a compulsive e-mail checker because you HAVE TO KNOW what is going on – you don’t want to miss anything. Every time you go there you are pulling your focus away from much more important activities.  So, how do you sort the important from the unnecessary?

You must develop a system to help you sift through your messages and glean those that are most important.  (See posting: Information Overload)

In addition to the information on how to sort your mail (found in Information Overload), try the following strategies:

  1. Ask people who send you email on a regular basis to make the subject lines very specific. When you can easily identify the content of a message, you can quickly sort the necessary from the useless.  (Get in the habit of writing very specific subject lines when you send messages to others, as well.)
  1. Have separate accounts for work and personal email – and be diligent in giving out the correct email address to people in each group.
  1. Use the tools offered by your email provider. They may allow you to organize your incoming mail according to urgency, subject, or client.  At the very least, create folders for topics and clients/customers, which will allow you to quickly and easily separate your emails.
  1. Evaluate every subscription you have. Online newsletters, vendors, and informational emails may serve you well in your chosen field, or they may be space and time wasters.  Cancel every subscription that you do not read as soon as it arrives and that does not provide valuable, useful information on a regular basis. Cancel a subscription immediately if it is not doing anything other than wasting your time and filling up your email.
  1. Get it the habit of practicing instant delete for all spam, advertisements, and unnecessary messages. It not only creates more room visually, it will also help prevent your being overwhelmed by the number of messages sitting in your inbox.
  1. Set a  schedule for handing your e-mails (see link above) and stick to it. This is just one example of doing things differently to save time.  A little ingenuity in this area can be a time goldmine.

If you can delegate – delegate. Trust your fellow workers – let others handle things that you DO NOT have to handle. You do not have to be the front man (or woman) on every project, you simply do not have time – nor is it a good business strategy. If you are a one-man/woman shop working at home, consider outsourcing – more on this later.

Reassigning tasks can ease your load, make things run more smoothly, and help eliminate some of the email that you are receiving.  Transfer the communication process on each delegated project to the new person in charge. Put some thought into it and start delegating whenever possible.

If you are receiving emails from many different people that are asking the same questions over and over, consider this strategy: Make a list of the frequently asked questions – answer them and publish the FAQs on a site that is publically accessible to everyone; or have the FAQs in an electronic file ready to send out at a moment’s notice.  Compiling the list of questions and answers may take some time  in the short run, but it will definitely save time in the long run.

As I have said before, always be on the lookout for ways of doing things differently that will provide better and quicker results. Make smart changes.

 

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