Email Time Management Tips Part 2
August 9, 2012 1 Comment
Use email to improve your time management so it makes you more efficient and doesn’t slow you down. Your personal and corporate reputation depends on it – including the overall quality of your work.
Please enjoy Part 2 of Email Time Management Tips. Have you read Part 1? Click here for Email Time Management Part 1.
Set Up Times Of The Day
One of your best opportunities to increase your time management, productivity and work quality is to only read and reply to email at specific times of the day. This best practice helps you stay focused on your strategic work and treat email as an information flow / communication flow.
I’ll bet most of your incoming email can wait an hour or two for a reply – they certainly do when you are in a meeting… so, set your server to check for incoming email every few hours. If email is critical and time sensitive to your job, have your email software check your server every hour.
There is great value in this tip. Research shows that the short interruptions like email notices lowers our productivity, errors go up and quality of all of our work (including email writing), goes down.
Don’t Let Disruptions In
You likely have a smartphone, a computer and an iPad / tablet. This means you get three announcements / interruptions for every email that comes in… plus a few more for Instant Messages (IM). Turn these notifications off when you are concentrating on strategic work… or at least leave only one on.
Read Once – Answer, Delegate or Delete
Now that you are sorting your email using Folders and Filters (see Email Time Management Part 1) you are doing a great job of prioritizing your email. The next thing to do is to avoid seeing the same message two or three times before you answer – a clear waste of time.
When you open an email the first time you should try to answer it if you have all the necessary information. If it’s more appropriate for you to delegate it or delete it… then do that.
Create Email Templates For Repeat Responses
Email templates save you and your employees from retyping the same information over and over. Email templates also offer the opportunity to strategically include important information, express organizational values (brand), and check tone.
Email templates can be great time savers but they can also be horrible for your personal and corporate brand if they ‘feel’ canned or impersonal. Everyone who uses email templates should still take a moment to personalize them to their audience and situation.
1- The Out-Of-Office Message
Your out-of-office message lets you manage client and co-worker expectations while you are away.
If you are going to be away for more than a few days include a notice of your pending departure as part of your email signature (and voice mail), ahead of time. Why wait to the last-minute?
For many tips on voice and email guidelines, read my blog post Out Of Office Reply = Customer Service.
2- The Vacation Email Inbox
Returning to work and a full email inbox can make you want to stay home under the covers. Like most things with email time management there are multiple solutions and the right solution depends on you, your style and your job. Two of my favourite options are:
- While on vacation take a half hour every morning to sit quietly with a coffee and review your email. Reply to critical ones, delegate to your back up or to other relevant people. Try to not get dragged into an issue, this is your time to relax. Then, go spend the day worry free with your family / friends.
- This is a more drastic option. In your out of office message identify who your back up is and that any messages you receive while you are away will be deleted. If they want a reply from you they should resend their message or current status of the situation to you on the day you get back.
Pick Up The Phone
Sometimes email is not the best solution – sometimes a phone call or face–to–face conversation is the best answer. If you are discussing options or solutions then I can almost guarantee email is not your best solution. Also, if someone phones or emails you and asks to speak with you, let that dialogue happen… you should even encourage it.
Unsubscribe From News Feeds
You should subscribe to this blog to get regular updates… but remove yourself from mailing lists you are receiving and not reading. They are not important if you are not reading them. In addition, not only are they loading up your inbox – they may be subconsciously making you feel you are not working hard enough.
Every email you write impacts your personal and professional reputation. Be sure you are using your email and email management software to make the most of your time and reputation.
Have you read Time Management Tips Part 1? Get great tips on using your time well, subject lines, how to use email folders and email filters and much much more.
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Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates business writing, email writing, email etiquette and time management courses.
Give us a call at 416 617 0462. We’ll listen.
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