Emails are a necessary part of everyday business communication. They can also be a major distraction that eats up your time and negatively affects your productivity. With emails now on your phone, it’s even easier for your attention to be hijacked by the ‘ping’ of every notification, losing valuable time that should be spent growing your business and getting more customers.
Here are three simple tips to manage your email overload and help you get back on top of your inbox.
1. Decide & control when you answer emails
Who made the rule that you must answer—or at least look at—every email as soon as it arrives in your inbox? You did! But the truth is, your productivity is dramatically reduced when you spend your whole day multi-tasking, no matter how good you are at it.
The solution is to designate specific hours in your day to focus on your inbox. This allows you to schedule a set time to manage and respond to emails in a more efficient way, rather than hastily rushing off replies in between your other business duties.
The time and frequency of your email correspondence times will depend on the type of business you operate, and your own lifestyle. If your business doesn’t run on urgency—where an immediate response could be the difference between winning or losing a customer—then twice a day may be enough. One hour first thing in the morning, and again before closing your doors at night, may be all you need to clean out your inbox without interrupting your workday.
If you need to check more frequently, set yourself reminders for those time blocks throughout the day. The trick is to go to your inbox, manage your emails, and then get out!
2. Turn off notifications & email alerts
How distracting is it when your business meeting is upended by the constant pings of social media notifications and messages? These little interruptions make it difficult to give your full attention to the task at hand, as you feel you’re being pulled in two directions at once.
An easy solution is to turn off the sound, but make sure you’re not still checking your inbox every five minutes. Stick to the schedule that you’ve set for yourself and only look at your emails during that time.
But what if you get an urgent message? It’s worth remembering that if someone really wants to reach you, they have plenty of ways to do so—SMS, messenger, or a good old-fashioned phone call!
3. Manage your clients’ expectations
There are loads of handy tools available in your email program that can help you manage your inbox.
Automated responses are a great way to let your clients know immediately that their message has come through and when they can expect a personal response. You can set up an automated response email that says something like this:
“Thanks for your email. In order to manage my workload and give each client my full attention, I’ve set aside time every day to personally respond to emails.
I’ll be checking my inbox daily between 10.00am and 11.30am and 2.30pm and 3.30pm.
If you need to contact me for anything urgent outside these times, please send me a text on XXX or call my mobile at XXX.
You could also use your email signature block to communicate a similar message by including a P.S. like…
“P.S. I’m not always at my desk, but I do check my emails regularly. If you need to reach me urgently, please call XXX.”
Then, of course, make sure you actually respond when you say you will. Your customers will soon become accustomed to what times you will get back to them.
You can also adjust your notification settings to only send you alerts from certain people. This can help you deal with important messages throughout the day while less important ones are set aside until your allocated email time.
Get help getting on top of things
There are many professional members within the Bartercard network that can assist with everything from setting up your inbox, to marketing, social media management, professional development and so much more.
Using your Bartercard trade dollars to gain professional support can improve your productivity, produce greater outcomes for your business and boost your cash flow!