Email is one of those things bloggers and business owners can’t do without, yet, if you’re anything like me, it can drive you crazy at times! The nature of email is as soon as you have finished replying to them all, a new lot is making its way into your inbox.
I want to share with you 5 steps to efficient email that will help you get on top of your inbox, stay organised and take some of the pressure off you. These steps are aimed at bloggers and business owners, but they work just as well for personal email.
One sure-fire way to feel overwhelmed by the ever-growing pile of emails in your inbox is to check it every 5 minutes. It is a drain on your time and your energy. You will be much more efficient and productive if you use the Batching method – that is, to set aside dedicated time to reading and responding to email, rather than doing it as and when arrives. Perhaps set aside a block of time at the beginning and end of your work day where you only focus on email. Spending dedicated time to one task is a proven way to get a job done properly and efficiently. Of course, if there is an urgent email that needs attending to, then by all means, but really most emails can wait a few hours and not need to be answered immediately.
2. Autoresponders + Scripts
Setting up Autoresponders is a great way to help provide answers to questions you commonly receive via email for your business or blog. Think about what kinds of questions you are responding to most and put them together in a response that gets sent out automatically when someone emails you. It is also a good idea to let them know roughly when to expect a response from you. If you also find yourself sending a lot of emails with similar content to suppliers or guest bloggers etc, Scripts can be a huge time-saver. The way I do this is to write out the email, leaving the specifics blank such as dates, names, etc. Then, rather than sending this email, I save it as a draft. Then, whenever I need to send an email with similar content, I simply copy the text from the draft email, into a new email and fill in all the specifics, then send it off. It takes so much less time. However, make sure you read through and make sure you have updated all the information for that recipient and you haven’t forgotten to add their name etc. You don’t want to appear as though you don’t care or are unprofessional.
3. Read + Reply
Ok, so it’s time to sit down and actually deal with your inbox. A huge frustration I have with sending and receiving so many emails is dealing with people who don’t actually properly read the email I sent. This means they either respond to what they think I was saying, but wasn’t, or they don’t respond to everything I have emailed them about. This just results in more emails and no one wants that! So, make sure you actually, and properly read the email before you respond.
I have a handy tip for you when it comes to responding. It is something I have started doing over the past few months and has made email responding SO much easier. Firstly, you need to make sure the email you were sent is included in your response, if not, copy and paste the email into your response. Then, go through, point-by-point and respond, highlighting your response using a different colour for the text. This way, not only do you know that you have responded to everything that you need to, but it can cut down on confusion as the recipient knows exactly what you are responding to.
See the example below:
We all have inboxes overflowing with email newsletters and updates that we subscribed to months or years ago, that we never actually read, or no longer wish to receive. Take some time to go through them and unsubscribe if you decide they are no longer for you. Your inbox and your sanity will thank you for it! Your daily number of emails received may just start to feel a little more manageable.
5. Stay Organised
Whether you access your email via webmail or through an email client such as Mac Mail or Outlook you have the functionality to be able to set up folders in which to organise your emails. One of my biggest tips for being efficient with email is to get emails out of your inbox as soon as you have replied. It helps with a sense of accomplishment and also to keep you organised. Set up folders for each of your clients, for personal emails, for different uses for your blog, etc and file your emails away. This also makes it easier for you to find a previous email quickly.
Another tip is using an email client such as Mac Mail or Outlook allows you to access multiple email address in one place. As someone who has a blog email, a personal email, an email for work with a specific client and a business email, it saves me so much time. I simply open the program and all the emails are there! You can choose to view them all together or separately for each email address. I have also found that having separate email address for different purposes allows me to keep things organised and also means I don’t even have to see emails from addresses I’m not working on that day.
These 5 steps will help you wrangle your inbox into something that can be managed and maintained which is good for reducing your email related stress. However, sometimes the volume of email you receive simply means you don’t get a chance to respond to everyone as quickly as you would like, and sometimes there is nothing you can do about that. Yet I hope the above is helpful for you. I know I have found these steps really helpful myself!