Email is a great way to connect with your community and stay in touch with them. But just like every other business tool, you have to know how to use email properly or it can easily consume your life and tank your productivity.
Many business owners have difficulty managing their inboxes and as a result, they stayed buried under an avalanche of ever growing messages. If you’ve let email be your boss, then consider trying some of these email hacks.
- Don’t check your email constantly.
This is the number one activity that most of us are guilty of, and these days it seems as though we fall pretty to using email as a messaging tool, having a back and forth conversation over the span of an hour or more. Resist the urge to answer immediately, instead, set a designated time to check and respond to messages. It’s usually best to have 1-2 times during the day that you stop and check your email. Many business owners find that checking your email in the morning and again before you stop working is the best way to go.
I know that’s easier said than done, and it is difficult if you have your email account synced to a mobile device. It’s tempting to drop everything and check your email the second you get a new notification. But when you check your email too often, you’ll be tempted to respond to messages later. This can make you more likely to forget or ignore the message. A happy compromise is to set up your VIP lists and only respond when notified of those client messages.
- Create templates.
As a business owner, you may get the same questions frequently. For example, if you offer WordPress themes, you might receive emails from new buyers asking how they should install their WordPress theme. In cases like this, it’s helpful to have a saved response. Now all you have to do is copy and paste your response each time you get the same question.
- Make a decision quickly.
Procrastination is the enemy when it comes to email productivity. You only have a few basic options when it comes to handling email messages. You can respond, file, delegate, or delete your emails.
Once you make a decision, ask yourself if you’ll need the information again later. For example when you get an electronic receipt for a business purchase, it’s usually best to file it. But emails that aren’t important or that you don’t have to follow up with can be deleted.
- Know when to pick up the phone
Sometimes, an old-fashioned phone call is required, especially if you’re dealing with a sensitive topic or maybe you need to be persuasive. With a phone call, you have the advantage of tone and inflection. This is important when dealing with situations that might be tricky like negotiating a price with one of your clients or when collaborating on a project with a business partner.
- Use another platform altogether
Other times, a different platform may be more efficient to get things in motion. If you use a messaging platform like Skype, you can still have that quick give and take with your coworker or client. You’re able to conduct a conversation without having a live conversation, but it won’t get dragged out over your new “check email 2 times a day” mantra. Protocol is that if someone IM’s you, you know it’s for something pressing and you’ll respond immediately. Keep in mind that with instant messaging platforms, you have the ability to set it to do not disturb so you can still preserve that quiet time needed to get things done.
Mastering email can be difficult, but with the right systems in place, you can make it more manageable. Take control of your inbox and end the electronic avalanche!