Ever felt like you were struggling to keep your head above water? Too many emails? Do you start your day reading them, trying to reply to the most important ones only to realise an hour has gone by?
Simply by organising them, you can be far more efficient. Below are a few tips which will affect your email workload.
These are our favourite email tips. As Virtual PAs, the amount of emails we handle might differ from yours. If there are any tips you have discovered, please post them in the comments! We can all learn from each other.
1. Delete before doing anything else.
Delete any unwanted messages without opening them. Do this before you open any messages which require immediate action. You’ll be able to tell from the subject line whether you need to deal with them or not. Don’t worry if you realise later on that you needed one of the messages, you can get it back as long as you’ve not emptied your bin folder.
Don’t hang onto messages you think you might act on but never do! If you can even get rid of 10% of your incoming emails without opening them, you’ll be able to be far more productive from the start!
2. Short emails are better.
When communicating by email, keep it short but be clear. Obviously, there will be times when you will need to be formal but use straight and concise language when you can.
3. Recycle sent messages.
If there are messages that you send over and over, reuse a sent message you’ve previously sent. Remove the “Re:” in the subject line, update details if need be, and send. Why do the same thing over and over?
4. Use the same subject lines.
Reusing sent messages increases your efficiency by minimizing the amount you write. Using the same subject lines will help you delete or archive emails far easier.
5. Create groups.
If you mail the same group of people often, create a group (distribution list). That way, you won’t have to type each name but you’ll be able to delete emails far quicker.
6. Sort to delete.
Reaching your data limits can easily happen, even if you’re extremely organised. When you need to create space, first, sort your sent messages by file or attachment size. Delete whatever you don’t need. You’re likely to have any of those attachments saved on your computer so you’re not deleting anything you might never find again.
Secondly, delete any messages you routinely send (point 3).Sort your emails by subject line but don’t forget to keep the most recent so you can continue recycling them. Do the same with emails to groups you created, just sort them by “To” field and you’ll be able to delete a load in one go!
7. Turn off your notifications.
Email alerts are highly distracting and you’ll probably often find yourself clicking on one out of “curiosity” whilst dealing with something else. You’ll get side-tracked and will often waste time on trivial things. Turn them off permanently!
8. Close your emails if you need to concentrate.
Close your email programme if you need to focus on a task. When it’s open, you’re likely to check the inbox out regularly. There is nothing that can’t wait 30 minutes. When you’re in a meeting, you can’t respond to your emails and the world doesn’t stop. It will allow you to be far more productive.
9. Use auto-responders for more than just out-of-office.
If you’re truly worried that someone will need to contact you and can’t wait for a response whilst you’re busy on something else, set up an auto-response with your phone number.
10. Delete! Or file messages into specific folders.
Don’t keep messages you won’t act upon. Just delete them! Leaving those messages in your inbox is distracting, unproductive and will only make you think of the things you’d like to do in a perfect world! If you don’t want to delete them, use folders and move those “things I’d like to do” emails out of your inbox.
11. Empty your deleted items last.
Empty your deleted emails daily or weekly, and always at the end of the day. Emptying your deleting items too often can be risky but you generally will only rescue deleted messages on the day you got rid of them. Doing it weekly is fine, but remember to do it.