Email Time Management Tips Part 1
August 7, 2012 4 Comments
Don’t be a slave to your email. A little preparation will help you determine how you can use email to improve your time management so it doesn’t drag down your productivity and success.
Please enjoy Part 1 of this two-part Email Time Management Tips blog.
Use Time Well
For strategic or complex email it’s best to respond when you are at your best and can allocate 100% of your attention. Most people are at their best between 10AM and 1PM.
Many of your email might not need you to think strategically and creatively. For example, email you are Cc’d on should be for information only (no action required by you), while other email may only need a Yes or No answer. Therefore, respond to your easy email when you are on the commuter train or are 5 minutes early for a meeting (when you don’t need your peak creative capabilities).
Be Proactive With Your Questions
Have you ever asked two or three questions and had only one answered? This is frustrating and wastes everyone’s time. Often part of the reason is that your questions were located in different places throughout your email message. The best way to get your questions answered is to list them using bullet points – and if necessary to summarize them. Example:
I have two quick questions:
- When will you email me the agenda?
- When would you like to meet?
Be Proactive With Your Answers
Good email time management also means being proactive with your answers. You will also improve your personal reputation as a helpful, knowledgeable expert. Here are a few examples:
- Do your best to answer all the questions you’ve been asked. Too often we answer the first question we see and then move onto the next email.
- Answer the question they didn’t ask. If you see there’s a question they did not ask but should, then by answering that question you will save time and reduce your email volume… and be a hero.
Fast Isn’t Better
Take time to read the email thoroughly before you answer. A quick response is good but sometimes increased speed means incomplete messages (and as discussed above), you might overlook an important question. Slowing down will likely decrease your email volume… and perhaps some customer frustration.
Train everyone at your company to use Subject Line properly – it’s a powerful time management resource that helps you prioritize the content of your inbox so you can pay attention to your important and relevant work first.
Use Your Email Signature Well
Use your email signature block to include important information like your title, phone and web address – this helps OTHERS save time. This way they don’t need to look up your phone number if they want to call you.
Use Email Folders and Email Filters
Email folders and email filters are two of the best email time management practices you have. They are similar to having an assistant file your work into an orderly filing cabinet. And, your email folders and filters can be personalized to your unique work environment.
Email folders let you effortlessly group messages based on one or more parameters. Folders also save time because they make it easy for you to find email you received days or even months ago.
Email filters let your email system file itself… into email folders. For example, you can filter by:
- To… / Cc… / Bcc…
With your email sorted efficiently you are able to find all relevant information quickly and easily and therefore not waste time searching for related email (or miss important information).
Every email you write impacts your personal and professional reputation. It also either makes you more efficient or can slow you down. Be sure you are using your email and email management software to make the most of your time and reputation.
Don’t miss reading Email Time Management Tips Part 2 for tips on creating templates, how to manage email when on vacation, how to manage disruptions and more.
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