This week Karran Bonner helps you to take control of your inbox with some top tips.
Start your work day before you open your inbox
So many of my clients talk about drowning in emails. Have you ever tried taking the first half hour of your day to fully plan out:
- What three things do you want to achieve today?
- How will you move key projects forward?
- How can you help develop your organisation today?
By setting aside time to answer these three key questions your outlook for the day is set before your inbox sets it for you.
Use a productivity tool to minimise the volume of email traffic
Most people would agree that if you could minimise email traffic you would. My way of working with clients has transformed since I started using a productivity tool called allthings (see allthings.io) which enable you to share lists, information, documents and provides a project management tool for data share with your colleagues and clients. Not only does it minimise email traffic but it enables a better flow of data management, time management and overall support more productive team management. There are individual and team versions of this tool and at a very reasonable cost you can see your email traffic reduce and productivity increase.
Encourage thoughtful email sending
We have probably all been guilty of forwarding emails, copying people into emails that they might not need or not highlighting actions clearly. A few effective guidelines for the emails you send and which I have seen work well in organisations include.
- Clear subject lines; ACTION (when something needs actioned), FYI (when something is for information only), SOCIAL (when it is a work social event), MEETING (when you are requesting a meeting). By using these simple email subjects it means your colleagues can quick sort their internal emails and be clear of the attention the email requires.
- Don’t CC a huge volume of people into an email. This is a commonly misused form of email. CC can cause unnecessary confusion. If an email needs to be sent to colleagues for information and no action is required – state this in the body of the text. If you are CC’ing some they will tend to think they do not need to action anything, however, I have seen organisations use CC as often as the TO field and it causing major confusion.
- Don’t Use Reply To All In Excess: occasionally reply to all is a good thing if everyone in the chain would benefit from seeing your responses, most of the time it adds to the mayhem of inboxes. Think carefully before hitting reply to all as before you know it you and your colleagues may have 20 emails relating to one topic which can cause major frustration across teams.
Set A Clear Out Of Office
People rushing their out of office replies is a big issue I see recurring on a daily basis. Think about everyone who sends you emails and alternative points of contacts when you are out of the office. Do not use internal colleagues names alone on your out of office as this will not be helpful to a customer or someone external to the business. Ensure you include clear alternative contact details and when you will return to your desk as well as including if your inbox will be monitored in your absence. Some clients have an expectation that your organisation will have a back up plan for monitoring emails while you are on annual leave so being clear on your out of office is crucial.
Email communication should be simple. By adopting these simple techniques organisation wide not only will your people become more productive, your customers will also experience a more efficient service. Should you wish to discuss streamlining your emails further please get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org