You try to do things right. You set up an online calendar and make to-do lists, you schedule your day with surgical precision — but by the evening, you haven’t done half the things you were supposed to. Does this sound familiar? While time-management skills are crucial when you have your own business, so is boosting your productivity, and you can’t have one without the other.
While time management skills can help you make the most out of your date, productivity takes into consideration one additional skill — how to improve your existing habits in order to get things more done and in a better way. And what’s more crucial than handling your emails in an efficient way? Here are some tips that can help you on that regard.
1. Don’t check your email first thing in the morning.
While email is a magnificent tool, it is also time-consuming. When running a business, you can receive anywhere from dozens to hundreds of emails per day from every kind of person — partners, employees, customers, you name it. Not every one of those messages is critical. Starting your routine reading a bunch of emails that have not been properly sorted out cannot only be very frustrating, but can also set the wrong tone for the rest of the day.
And on that note…
2. Set up rules / filters.
Say your inbox receives messages from service providers, partners, alumni newsletters and notifications from the school your kids attend. How will you determine which ones need to be prioritized? Setting up rules that organize your emails by topic, keywords or sender will help you be able to make sure the ones that make it to your inbox are those you really want to read as they come.
3. Appoint a go-to person.
Picture this: You’re on a long meeting and unable to read your emails, and a customer reaches you with an urgent matter. Wouldn’t that person become frustrated if you don’t reply in a timely manner? How can that be prevented? A good tip is to appoint one of your collaborators or partners as a go-to person. Include their contact info in your email signature so they can be reached when you’re unavailable. Doing so might save a business relationship and money.
4. Pick up a specific time to check your email.
Now that you have set up your email filters / rules, it’s time to determine when and in what order you’ll review them. We’ve already discussed that checking your inbox first thing in the morning is not a great idea. When, then? Usually, mid-morning is the most productive time of the day for most people. Those who you email by then will most certainly reply — they will be back from their breakfast meeting or got everything urgent out of their ways, as would you.
By Richard Lorenzen