Email Strategies … but be careful!

EmailEmail, to the extent that it is controlled, can be quite helpful. However, managing the high volume that most of us receive on a daily basis means that we may need to be more efficient in handling that volume.

I make note of email management techniques whenever I encounter them. Let me be the first to say that I have not implemented every technique that I have encountered because my clients and other stakeholders must be treated as priorities. In other words, I have elected effectiveness over efficiency.

Never-the-less, here are a few techniques that have come to my attention that may be useful to some.

Schedule time to deal with email. There are jobs where you are expected to monitor and respond to email promptly throughout the day. If you are not required to be responsive immediately, scheduling a block of time for emails could be a productivity improvement. Perhaps a starting point would be to schedule four (4) equally spaced blocks of time throughout the day. Don’t multitask during these periods.

Once and Done. This is probably not possible for every email, but to extent possible, handle each message only once. All of us receive some emails that require thought and possibly some research to provide an accurate and appropriate response. Perhaps one of your email block could be used for research oriented responses or action.

Prioritize Emails. There will be certain emails from certain sources, such as your manager or an important customer or client. Perhaps a priority system to move or forward these emails to categories for your manager, certain predefined issues and required timeliness. Most email clients have the ability to establish various priority levels. For example, Outlook offers user defined Rules, Categories, Folders and Follow-up setting to help you organize your email.

Use “Pre-formatted” Responses. Boilerplate could be judiciously used because every email does not require an elegantly crafted response. You could consider developing a library of pre-formatted responses based on your type of work and contacts. You will find that the Pareto Principle probably applies and that these pre-formatted responses with minor adjustments will handle 80 percent of your email responses. Clearly, some email definitely require the personal touch, but for everything else, the pre-formatted responses will work for you. For example, Outlook allows “AutoCorrect” to set up quick responses that can be triggered by typing short phrases.

As a safety net, most email clients allow you to mark an email as “unread” to preserve it until you can respond.

Related Articles:   5 Email Lessons … for everyone!   and   5 Email Time Savers That Increase Productivity

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James E. McClain is the author of Successful Career Development: A Game Plan, the book upon which some of our training programs are based. He has over 30 years' experience as a corporate HR executive, small business owner with ongoing experience in career development and as a college instructor. His educational background includes a B.S. and Masters degrees Education and Certification in Financial Planning. Our promise is that "you can pay more for training but you can not buy better training." The mission is to deliver the most effective and cost effective training and development programs.

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