Email Bankruptcy: Solutions
July 12, 2011 1 Comment
Email Bankruptcy is a growing problem for business. This is the second of two blog posts I’m dedicating to the topic . The first was Email Bankruptcy: Definition, and this post give some solutions on how you can avoid or recover from a very large… inbox.
Part of the solution will be keeping email etiquette rules in mind when you write email and answer email. Another part of the solution will be how you manage your:
- Contact manger (Outlook and Gmail as examples)
- Email quality, flow and priorities
So let’s explore some solutions to help deal with massive amounts of email.
Email Bankruptcy Definition Recap:
Email bankruptcy is a decision to delete all or a majority of your email messages. This should not be taken lightly – its impact on your reputation can be sever. And lets face it – declaring email bankruptcy is likely only going to provide a temporary solution unless you can identify the root of the problem and apply a solution.
1. Manage Your Email Message Quality:
- Content. Good email out will mean good email in – and fewer overall email. Start this by thinking of what’s important to your recipient and then give them what they need – including the answer to their next question.
- Timing. Let people know when you need more time – otherwise they will think you forgot them. This tip will help you manage their expectations, protect your reputation and will also reduce inbox volume because the sender will not be following up with you.
- Subject Lines. Write email subject lines that are short, tell the purpose of your email and help the reader decide if they’ll open it now, later or at all. If you don’t convince your target audience to open your email, the time you spent writing your message will have been completely wasted.
- Addressing. Use Distribution Lists for your email blasts. Also don’t put people into the To… line who don’t need to act. Both of these tips demonstrate you respect for their time and privacy.
2. Email Folders & Email Rules
A gentleman named Mark responded to my Email Bankruptcy Definition post suggesting the use of Email Folders & Email Rules. I totally agree.
I have Email Folders in Outlook for key clients, suppliers and Social Media alerts. Then I created Email Rules to push incoming email to the Folders.
To keep my inbox relevant I also label email that survive my prioritizing (see below), with colors so I can see at a glance critical email.
3. Set regular times to process email.
Email is a tool to use to do your job. So, I recommend you should not let it interrupt your productivity. The idea is to keep your email notifier off and check email 2 or 3 times a day. A regular schedule will also help manage your clients and employees expectations.
- 8am: Prioritize your day
- 8:15: Address urgent email & phone messages
- 8:30: Work / Meetings
- 11:00: Check when to write / answer email
- 12:00: Lunch
- 1:00: Flexible time (work / address urgent email and phone messages)
- 2:00: Work / Meetings
- 5:30: Go home
4. Prioritize. If your volume is so high that you can’t respond to every email you’ll have to scan and prioritize so you can address the important email.
- Scan. In your first email processing session of the day quickly decide what email needs to be discarded, responded to by you, or responded by someone else). If it’s not critical and can be delegated – do it.
- Prioritize. Respond to the email that are most important – considering things like clients, employees and potential revenue generations. Establish your criteria that works for you and stick to it.
I hope these email bankruptcy tips help you manage your email.
If you establish a process that works for you (and may be slightly different for someone else), you will spend less time working with email while doing a better overall job of managing your inbox, clients and co-workers.
As you set up your process, spend 10 – 15 minutes each day creating Email Folders and Email Rules. Before you know it you will have a cleaned up and well-organized email inbox.
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