Be honest: is email helping or harming your business?
At its best email can be a highly convenient and cost-effective tool for marketing and customer service – but without a plan in place for managing it, your inbox can easily get out of control, creating unwanted stress and thwarting productivity.
These tips will help you get a handle on using email strategically – and systematically – so you can operate a more efficient, customer-friendly business.
Change your mindset
Whether it’s work ethic, curiosity, or a desire to remain competitive, many business owners check their email constantly – and their business suffers for it.
According to a recent study, most of us check email on average fifteen times a day. The same study showed that productivity increases and stress levels are significantly reduced when workers monitor their inboxes just three times a day.
As an experiment, take note of how often you check your email in one 24 hour period. Then try limiting your check in’s to set times; experiment with responding to your messages in batches.
Take note of your results. Do you get more done? Are you less anxious?
Although we take our digital communication tools for granted, the reality is they’re only useful if they’re the right tools for our needs.
Is an email account necessary for your business? If you’re sure the answer is yes, are you the best (or only) person to be tasked with managing it?
To avoid inbox overwhelm try:
• Connecting with customers and staff via a social media platform
• Encouraging people to reach you by phone
• Hiring an assistant to manage your inbox or
• Subscribing to an app designed to streamline email management
If email is a must for your business, an auto responder can help you set some boundaries – and expectations – by letting people know how often you check your messages, alternate ways to reach you, and a timeframe for when to expect a response.
Create a filter and file system
Managing email becomes much easier when you stick to a plan each time you log in. These tips will help you regain control of your inbox and save time going forward.
• Prepare a few templates you can personalize to respond to similar kinds of messages.
• Reply immediately whenever possible. If you need more information or more time to write a proper reply, file those emails to a “later” folder or mark them as unread—then respond before end of the day so they don’t pile up.
• Create no more than three folders to manage your emails and streamline filing. Designate one folder for action required, one for a delegate (if needed), and one for archiving emails you want to keep.
• Unsubscribe from newsletters you habitually delete or ignore – a few a day until your inbox is “clean” of unwanted emails.
• Set up filters for non-work related messages so they land in a folder you can read through when you have time.
Once you have a smart system for email in place, you won’t feel as burdened by your inbox – and you’ll have more time to spend on business activities that bring in more revenue.
What change will you make to your email routine to run your business more efficiently and effectively?