Digging Out of the Daily Email Palooza
I have 700 law students with whom I work on a regular basis plus a myriad of private clients so needless to say, I get a lot of email every day. The volume is so tremendous that I can find myself chained to my desk if I don’t pro-actively tackle the email Palooza that is my world.
I know I’m not alone in this email overload reality so how do you stay efficient, weed out the email spam, and correspond in a timely manner to your constituents without becoming completely stressed out?
Christine Stoddard is a writer and television producer in Washington, DC and she shared some incredible tips in Little Pink Book about how to manage an inundated inbox with some measure of sanity:
Learn your email system inside and out. Whether you’re using Gmail, Outlook or First Class, tutor yourself on the shortcuts.
Create and save automated messages. Different clients may regularly submit similar queries. If you find your email redundant, create a standard reply and save it. The next time a client asks you a question you’ve answered before, send a prewritten response.
Set up an account with automated responses. When saving canned responses and sending them off one-by-one isn’t enough, it may be more time-efficient and cost-effective to set up another email account, firstname.lastname@example.org for example, which only sends out automatic responses.
Direct and organize emails from different recipients. Want emails from a specific vendor all in one folder? Many mail systems allow you to direct and store your emails as they hit your inbox.
Update your address book. Add loyal clients, long-time vendors and other important contacts to your email address book. Doing so means their messages are less likely to end up in your spam folder, which also means less sifting on your end.
Schedule two times of the day to answer email. If you feel like Pavlov’s dog when the ringer on your computer announces a new email, shut off the audio and get on with your work day. Organizational experts recommend scheduling 2 times a day to deal with email so you have this uninterrupted time to efficiently get through your messages. Resist the temptation to respond whenever a new message comes in unless you are on-call for an urgent reason.
Teach people how to treat you. It all boils down to teaching people how to treat you. If you answer an email on your smart phone at 3:00 am – the person who sent you the message will assume you are available and open for business. Set your boundaries and know that responding in a 24 hour period is perfectly acceptable.
Bottom line, email can take over your life if you let it. Set your boundaries, put efficiency models in place and schedule time each day to tackle email so it doesn’t get the better of you!
With over a decade of career and professional development coaching experience, Caroline Dowd-Higgins has a desire to empower and energize people to achieve their personal goals. Her training style is engaging, high energy, and positive with a focus on unlocking the self-advocate within each of us. Read more from Caroline at carolinedowdhiggins.com.