Email now takes up a significant part of almost everyone’s working day. If you spend more than an hour each day using email it makes a lot of sense to make your email routine as efficient as possible.
If you can save just 15 minutes a day on email you will free-up an hour and a quarter every working week, which is over 56 hours a year… that’s a time saving of over a full working week every year. If you can save an hour a day you will free-up a massive 28 working days in a year!
These figures may seem unbelievable at first but they are accurate when based on an eight hour working day, a 5 day working week and a 45 week working year.
So, how do you streamline your email routine to make it as efficient as possible?
1) Have set times for dealing with emails each day. Deal with your emails when you arrive at work and at the end of the day – set aside time for this in your daily routine. Close your email client for the rest of the day so that your emails don’t distract you from the work that needs to be done.
2) Use the two minute rule when sorting through your inbox. What’s the two minute rule? If you can reply to an email in under two minutes, do it straight away. Otherwise, mark it and come back to it after you have sorted through the rest of your inbox.
3) Use fixed responses if you regularly send similar emails. This can be a huge time-saver. For example, you might regularly type your address, a description of what you do or an email to thank people for payment. The next time you find yourself writing something that you feel you have written before, copy it for use in the future. Some email clients have settings to manage these, such as ‘canned responses’ in gmail. However, a simpler way to manage fixed responses is just to copy and paste each response into a notepad document and put them all in a folder in your desktop. This way, if you ever want to change email client you’ll still have all your fixed responses with you.
4) Unsubscribe from emails that you don’t want to receive… first time. Rather than just delete these emails take a few seconds to open the email, scroll down and click ‘unsubscribe’. This will cut down the number of emails that you receive and make sorting through your inbox quicker.
5) Send the spam to spam. Send spam emails straight to your spam folder and they won’t be a problem again. Before hitting spam though, check that the email is really spam – if it is as list you’ve signed up to or a marketing email from a company who you’ve bought something from, it is much better to unsubscribe.
6) Set up folders in your email client… and use them. Almost all email clients allow you to create folders in which to file emails. Using these is much better than storing old emails in your inbox as you’ll have a nice neat inbox which is easily managed. It also makes it easier to find old emails that slip past the search function of your email client.
7) Use filters to automatically apply actions to incoming emails. You can use filters to automatically put emails from specifc addresses into one of your folders. For example, if you receive a monthly newsletter that you like to read in your spare time you can automatically filter it to a ‘newsletters’ folder and read it when it suits you. These emails will never touch your inbox so you cut down on the amount of email sorting that needs to be done.
8) Use an email list service if you regularly send emails to the same group of people. Simply create an email list and you can send an email to the list email address direct from your email client as normal – the email will be received by the whole group. This can be a huge time saver because it saves you having to add everybody’s email addresses manually. Group email services also come with nice features such as: the ability to prevent members of the list seeing each others email addresses and including the name of an individual in the email (e.g. ‘Hi John’ rather than ‘Hi Everyone’). For more information see this two minute video.
9) Add a signature to all your emails. Most email clients come with a feature that allows you to automatically add a signature to your emails – use this to add a sign-off too. You’ll never have to think about how to end an email again.
If you think that any of these steps could streamline your email routine then make the change straight away – a little time spent now will save a huge amount of time in the future!