06 Mar Seven Easy Ways to Get Control of Your Inbox
In How To Make More Sales By Managing Workday Interruptions, we looked at the three different types of interruptions and offered suggestions to help minimize interruptions to sales productivity. One of those suggestions was to get control of your email.
It makes sense, considering research shows, as mentioned in What Software Developers Can Teach Sales Managers, that the average employee receives around 122 emails a day and takes approximately 2.5 minutes to deal with each one.
You have a choice. You can either be good at returning emails or you can be good at getting things done. If your job is to respond to emails immediately (product service technician), great. Otherwise, you don’t have to be available to everyone all the time.
Here are seven easy ways to help you get control of your emails. Each action only takes about 10 minutes to do but will pay back hours in sales productivity dividends.
- Learn the technology that is going to save you time. Learn how to set up e-mail filters, color code content, set priorities, auto forward and sub-folders.
- Set up your email application to display the Sender, the Subject and three lines of the email. This allows you to quickly see if the requires immediate attention.
- Set up your email to check for messages only once an hour.
- Turn off the sound and pop-ups that tell you new emails have arrived on your computers and phones.
- Use “email to all,” and “reply to all” messages with discretion. Use the “Bcc:” field to reduce the number of replies to other people — and request this from others.
- Set up filters to deal with mass email lists, including people who send “friendly spam.” Set up and auto-forward to a different online (non-work) email account and ask them to use this address.
- Be disciplined about your filters. Set up sub-folders and either run rules to put messages in the correct sub-folders or have this done automatically as the messages come in.
You can either be good at returning emails or you can be good at getting things done.
Manage the Volume
The above steps will help you manage your email so you have uninterrupted time to focus on sales productivity and tasks distraction free. What they don’t do, is decrease the volume of email you eventually need to deal with when that task is complete.
To help with that, here are five actions to help manage the volume of emails that hit your inbox to begin with:
- Unsubscribe to magazines, newspapers or content streams that you rarely read. Instead, put a reminder in your calendar with a link to review the online material once a week or once a month. Or use RSS to compile information that you need.
- Set up messages to “follow” to devices you travel with or alert you to important messages on e-mail or voice-mail according to their importance.
- Create accounts to catch messages that deserve different levels of attention. For example, set up a rarely checked email account for free content that requires registration. Alternately, for VIPs, auto-send the email to your phone as a text message with an alert.
- If you often have requests for the same types of information or links, put together a list of these and add this to your signature or put this online and link to this from your email signature and your online profiles.
- Set a Response Expectation. Many people on the Sales Beacon team show their response times in their e-mail signatures or voice-mail messages. It helps to manage expectations of your email response.
Some Final Advice on Sales Productivity
Given the frequent delivery and growing volume of email we receive each day, it becomes increasingly important to learn how to deal with email more effectively. It’s important to do the above, as well as set aside reading time each day on the calendar. Block this as time you are unavailable, starting with 10 minutes an hour and moving into larger, less frequent chunks of time. An hour of uninterrupted time can be worth several hours of interrupted time spread throughout the week.
And, really, ask yourself, “What is the worst that would happen if I don’t respond to this until my email time tomorrow?”