On a scale of one to 10, how good do you feel you are at managing all of your email messages? Social distancing because of COVID-19 has almost everyone in the business world sending out more emails than before. That, combined with all the sales emails you’re sending out, and hopefully getting responses to, amount to one cluttered inbox. Managing your inbox is the only way you won’t miss out on business opportunities.
If you didn’t confidently answer, “10!” to the question I posed at the start of this post, it’s time to evaluate how you’re managing your inbox. So, what can you do starting today to be better?
Better Managing Your Inbox
Remove the Clutter
Somewhere along the line in your career, you probably signed up for newsletters. Or you could have attached your work email to social media or other personal accounts. The first and easiest step to managing your inbox is to get rid of and unsubscribe from unneeded messages. According to Melanie Pinola, writing for Zapier, you should turn off the email notifications from your social media accounts. Unsubscribe from newsletters that aren’t necessary for your job. And switch the email address associated with your personal activities. If you still want to hear from you bank, route those messages to your personal email address. Then go through your work email inbox and delete the older notifications from these sources.
Schedule Blocks of Time to Dedicate to Emails
Pinola says that professionals spend an average of 6.3 hours every day on their emails. That’s roughly 79% of your workday! Think of all the other things you could be doing with some of that time. That’s why the next step to managing your inbox is to set aside a certain amount of time each day to dedicate to emails. Half hour chunks of the day are what Pinola recommends. Check your email once near the beginning of the day, then again sometime after lunch, and once more before your shift ends. Turning off your email notifications can help you stay focused outside of your designated email times.
The “Touch it Once” Rule
There is a principle adopted by many professionals that you should never touch a piece of paper more than once. If you do, says Pinola, it becomes a waste of your time. “Once you open an email, make a decision about it, whether that's quickly replying to the email, archiving it, or deleting it. Do not — I repeat, do not — leave that email to go read the next one. That's like saving all of your voicemail messages only to listen to them again the next day and the next.”
Creating folders can be a big help in managing your inbox, according to an article by Business Development University. If the email you’ve opened requires more time to respond to than you have at the moment, file it in a designated folder to return to later. Name the folders based on the actions you need to take. Or you could also make folders for emails from specific senders if there are high-priority clients you get frequent emails from.