One of the most time consuming and often frustrating parts of our work day can be dealing with the multitude of emails that find their way into our Inboxes. There’s a saying that goes ” When you are answering emails you are working for someone else”. Everyone is busy and every task and request was due yesterday but we don’t have to let emails rule our work days and hamper our productivity.

Here are some tips for dealing with ‘email overload’ that I have gathered from across the internet, which may help you in dealing with this productivity blight.

Never open the same email twice. This is probably easier said than done it can be easy to skim over an email and miss the important details, or decide you will come back and reply to said email later in the day. Try using the delete/delegate/respond method, if you can respond in under two minutes then you have dealt with it in a timely manner and won’t have to come back later to action it. It also means you aren’t wasting time re-reading the same information.

Setting yourself a time limit each day for responding to emails can also help. Whether this be 15 minutes each hour or once in the morning and once in the afternoon, it helps to have a structured approach to correspondence. They say that depending on the complexity of the task it can take between 4-15 minutes to get back to full productivity if distracted. This distraction can be as little as the ping notification from your email client.

Respond to your emails in a timely manner. This is a given in business but many don’t adhere to this principle. Generally the rule is to respond within 2 hours if you can, or if you only check your emails twice a day, respond to all your mail these two set times. However don’t fall into the trap of responding two quickly otherwise people may take this for granted and expect it every time.

Utilise the subject line to summarise and not describe the content of the email. It is best practice to give concise information here so the reader can immediately gauge its importance and relevance.

Make sure to include the full context of the message when your reply, often when we receive multiple emails from the same sender the message can get lost. At the beginning of each email you send make sure to include the most pertinent information eg. “Just getting back to you with regards to the proposal you sent out this morning”. Don’t just jump into your reply with the answer to their question eg. “Yes it looks great let’s go ahead”, give some frame of reference.

Use rules to your advantage. Setup folder for personal emails, or perhaps break up groups into current, past and prospective clients. This can mean you aren’t distracted by onscreen alerts every time you receive mail, and mail that isn’t urgent is filed away for later actioning.

If you can only implement one of these tips, you will be well on the way to having a more productive day and your clients will love you for it.

Key Actions :
– Never open the same email twice, use the delete/delegate/respond method
– Set yourself a time each day when you will respond to emails, whether this be for a set period each hour or at a specific time in the morning and afternoon.
– Respond to your emails promptly, a good rule is within 2 hours if you are checking your email once an hour.
– Utilise the subject line, make it concise and to the point.
– When replying to email make sure you give context to your message you the receiver can immediately see the key points of your email.
– Setup rules in your inbox for sending and receiving mail, setup folders to group your contacts.

Written by: Hayden Burgess

Hayden Burgess  is a Programme Developer and Facilitator for Sales Impact Group.