Email is an extremely useful communication tool in business. Less interrupting than a phone call, and available 24/7 ‐ email is convenient and fast. It enables you to do business from just about anywhere!
However, on a Tuesday morning after the bank holiday, your inbox is bulging at the seams! London and New York were working yesterday and clients are looking for answers! Who do you respond to first? Where do you start? Well, truthfully with a coffee…. Now let’s begin!
- Categorise your incoming emails. Do this every morning when you start your day to clear up your inbox and prioritise the tasks and emails for the morning ahead. You can start with these simple categories: ‘To Action Now, To Do Later and To File’. Once you get used to using categories you can set up your own which are particular to your office environment such as ‘Send for Approval’ or ‘Business Trip Planning’ ‐ but for now let’s take these three basic categories:
- You can quickly mark the TO FILE emails – these need no action and are information only emails which you can file at your leisure in the afternoon.
- The TO DO LATER emails are those ones which are not urgent, or may need a little more time to work on. Maybe it is an unusual query or project work – leave this until mid-morning (when you have had another coffee) and the most important emails are answered and filed away.
- The TO ACTION NOW emails are the ones that are either urgent (red exclamation marks!), quick and easy to process, or need to be sent on to the relevant person or department. Get these out of the way first and not only will you keep your time critical clients happy but you will leave yourself more time to get stuck into the TO DO LATER pile with less interruptions!
- Non‐Essential Email ‐ If you regularly receive email such as newsletters, blogs and article feeds, you could re‐route these to another email address, use rules, or simply move these to a particular folder. This will help keep your primary inbox clear, and they will be in one place, ready to read at a convenient time.
- File File File! A cluttered email inbox ‐ filled with old, unopened or unimportant messages ‐ will not only frustrate you, but an overflowing inbox visually may add to your stress. This can also prevent you from searching effectively. Create folders – by client / process / month depending on your profession and file daily. Only keep emails that still require action in the body of your inbox.
- Don’t let important emails sit in the TO DO LATER category of your inbox for days. If you do not know the answer or the email contains work that is going to take you some time ‐ respond to the sender that you received the message and will be in touch shortly! This will stop the client from following up with you looking for reply – and thus one less email to deal with the next morning!
- Finally, try and keep your inbox as clear as you can. Follow up on that unresolved question, chase up that update – don’t leave to do’s in there for an indefinite time. Set yourself a time during the week to follow up on these outstandings and clear out these emails! Now, go and enjoy a happy, destressed and uncluttered email week!
Lainey Broderick is an Assistant Manager Fund Administration, who despite best efforts of the above, never has an empty inbox!!!