Most business owners say that email is the greatest interrupter that kills productivity.
It is quite surprising that many entrepreneurs are overwhelmed by email yet they do not realize that their approach to using it limits how much they can bring it under control.
The truth is, with an effective email management plan in place, email can stop being a productivity killer and instead, become an enhancer of workplace productivity. The following are eight ways you can enhance your email management and enhance the productivity at your workplace.
Turn off notifications
The irregular inflow of emails into your inbox can become a nightmare to productivity. To stop this problem, you should consider controlling how you are notified of incoming messages all day long. By simply turning off the notifications on your smartphone and on your computer, you can prevent those incessant distractions that disrupt your schedule. This way, you only check your mail when you are ready to take a look at it.
Decide how to use your inbox
Take your time to come with a philosophy to follow when it comes to using your email. One approach involves only using your inbox for high-priority messages. You could also make it your list of current working tasks. The idea here is to decide one use of your inbox and use it for only that purpose.
Set firm email boundaries and respect them
Interruptions take up a lot of time and reduce our productivity a great deal. That is why it is extremely important to find ways to be interruption-free so that you can get a lot more done. Find a number of hours where you can stay away from all types of interruptions and concentrate on being productive. Keep in mind that email is often addictive.
The temptation to do one often leads to doing more than one, and before you know it, you’ve lost hours you would have been busy doing other types of work. Consider having specific times when you do all email related activities, and other times when you stay far away from your inbox. For instance, you could choose, say, Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays where you don’t check your emails. These days could easily become your most productive days.
If you use multiple accounts, like most people do, find the best ways to combine personal and work email in a manner that does not increase disruptions. For those using Windows operating system, perhaps this list of the best windows apps to manage multiple email accounts could help. This way, the days you go email-free could truly live up to your intentions where you do not check both your work and personal emails.
Use powerful subject lines to streamline the time it takes for your team to process and find an e-mail
In this respect, email is similar to Instagram: after using tools that help you grow your following organically on this social media platform like Social Growr, and now have a noteworthy following, the last thing you want to do is publish posts with no captions, or with captions that no one remembers. Do this and you start losing the very followers you worked so hard to get.
The same principle applies to email. When your team sends you email with blank subject lines, they give you a hard time figuring out which ones are urgent and why you should immediately respond to one and not the other. This could lead you to losing the interest of digging through the emails to find what you want, or it could end up wasting your valuable time. Therefore, consider requiring your staff to put some thought into the emails they send you, including forwarded ones. Ask them to redo subject lines to make the subject line clear and concise.
Turn off your auto send-and-receive function
Consider turning off your auto send-and-receive function to ensure that you don’t see every email as soon as it reaches your inbox. Yes, you don’t need to see every email that you receive immediately it lands into your inbox. Additionally, turn off both visual and audio email alerts and instead, allocate certain times when you go through and respond to your emails. Truth be told, all that email alerts do is promote compulsive behavior which ultimately, kills productivity.
Create email whitelists and blacklists
It is very likely that the email provider you use allows users to create a list of safe addresses from which you should always receive emails and another list of unsafe emails which you can block or instruct the provider to consider spam. Make these lists and update them regularly so that the emails you receive are only those on your whitelist.
Don’t use e-mail to manage your “tasks” or to manage your team’s tasks
Using your email to manage your tasks will mean that you will often be in your inbox every time a new email comes through, emails that end up messing up your productivity. To avoid this, consider using a project management or shared task management tool. A spreadsheet could also work.
Replying to a long conversation thread, pull up the key information to the top of the e-mail
By doing this, you ensure that the person you are sending the email to immediately and clearly understands what you want them to know so that they can communicate back in a similarly fast and precise manner. For emails with multiple items, numbering them could be helpful and could ensure the intended reader follows and respond to your emails as expected.