July 13, 2010, 5:00 am

How Do You Manage Your Email?

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Business,Career
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I am going a little bit off topic today because I want to talk about email management. For most of you (I guess), email has become the communication tool of choice. Personally, I try to communicate as often as possible via email instead of picking up the phone or going to see people. This way, I can manage many tasks simultaneously whether at work, with my online company and on the personal side too.

However, amazing as they are, managing email has now become one of the most time consuming activities for many individuals. So how can you take advantage of the convenience and clarity of an email without being drowned by tons of them?

I don’t think I have all the answers to this question, but I surely have a few email management tips to offer:

Getting a Blackberry to manage your emails

A little bit more than a year ago, I decided to make a big jump technology wise (remember, I am a techno retarded blogger 😉 ) and bought a Blackberry. I wasn’t convinced that this little black phone would change my life this much.

But after 18 months, I can tell anyone that the Blackberry is the best email management tool I have found so far! Whenever I have 2 minutes (in the metro, waiting on the phone, etc.) I review my email, respond and organize my week. This is the perfect tool to take care of your day-to-day business.

I have also noticed that I am able to close a lot more deals with my online company due to the fact that I can answer much faster and at any time of the day and night (that could be a problem for the wife thought…).

Skim them, solve emergencies, answer everybody within 24 hours

At work, I have a different approach. Since I can’t sync my Blackberry with my laptop (they don’t allow me due to security issues), I have to manage my mailbox differently. This is how I have made the habit of skimming all my email while I am on the phone so I can pick up on priorities right away.

When I can’t answer an email right now because it requires more time, research, etc., I answer my client within 24 hours telling him that I will get back to him once I have an answer. This way, my clients are answered within a short period of time and they know that someone is taking care of them and I can buy myself some more time to deal with other matters.

Delegate what can be done by someone else

Another trick I have found at work is to delegate all email that can be handled by my assistant. There are a lot of easy-to-do-but-time-consuming requests in my mailbox so I just forward them to my assistant.

For my online company, I dream of the day that I will have a reliable virtual assistant that can handle part of my mailbox. However, this will only come with time and trust.

Don’t go over conversation through email

Using email to answer questions is great. Getting into a debate is not the best idea on earth thought. If you feel that your answer will generate another series of questions, maybe you are better off picking up the phone and calling 😉

Having detailed conversations via your computer (or worst, your Blackberry) can become very time consuming!

What about you? How do you manage your email? Do you find it difficult? How many email are sitting in your inbox? (I do have at least 15 of them per account on a regular basis…)

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Comments

TFB,

I think I have to improve my email management.

At work, I have currently 300 emails non classified. I think I have to take the habits to delete the thank-you-reply, the non-read mailing lists (not your though hehe), the emails that the tasks requested are completed, newsletters informing about upgrades, etc… I currently sync with my blackberry, however I keep everything, it helps me to search for infos, details, address, etc. :S

At work I can easily created auto-rules, but with my gmails, I can’t manage to do it. I keep all conversations, all infos, all address, all gift lists. Can you suggest a good way to classify my emails without being depressed?!?! Actually, I don’t know how to start.

Thanks,
Zavi

At the office, I get over 100 emails daily. Some are automated email that are automatically filtered. Others need to be dealt with. I rely on the from field and the thread name to know what is important to deal with daily. I have a Blackberry provided by the office for email and time management away from my desk. Not sure if it’s a blessing … as I always have it with me at home. I can take an hour at the end of the day to complete my response to the appropriate parties.

Filtering with rules has been powerful for me. I use it at home and at the office in order to keep my inbox with must deal items.

Information overload. I think it’s a bit crazy to see how communications have evolved… some years ago you would:

-Meet friends
-Talk on the phone
-Get a letter

20 years letter if you want to keep up you must:

-Meet friends
-Talk on the phone (personal, work, cell phone, etc)+Voicemails
-Check your emails (work, personal, etc)
-Facebook (wall, IM’s, etc)
-Twitter
-etc,. Etc…

Getting crazy no? Can be overwhelming

It’s very much mixed feelings for me with the Blackberry. On one hand, you have peace of mind because you can check often to see if there is a problem or not and being reachable means you do no have to come back home or to work to see how things are going

But the flip side is that it can become difficult to not check when you are expected to be looking at your emails, etc…

I am a bit fo a freak, always need to take down the number of emails in my inbox and it is almost an obsession

@Zavi – Do you currently have a time in the morning to organize all of your emails to filter what is important, what isn’t, etc, etc?

“If you feel that your answer will generate another series of questions, maybe you are better off picking up the phone and calling”

Yep! I use Gmail to consolidate my accounts so I can reply to them from one place. It is just so much more productive than some other email apps. Sometimes it gets a little overwhelming, but I try to reply to everyone by at least the end of the day.

IS,
thanks for the tip. I can at least start with that.

I try to bring down my emails to a bunch of them. A few out and a lot IN. Kind of depressing I would say, but so much important :S

@Zavi – Maybe you are just very important:)

@Invest it Wisely – Do you ever feel like answering fast generates more emails in the end? It kind of “encourages” everyone to email you instead of alternatives?

“@Invest it Wisely – Do you ever feel like answering fast generates more emails in the end? It kind of “encourages” everyone to email you instead of alternatives?”

Depending on the topic, I might give people some time to deliberate before I reply. Sometimes I do have a couple people that start doing this; If this happens, I’ll slow down for a bit for that particular thread 😉

When this happens at work, I’ll often use an IM or just see the person in person; things can often get resolved more easily that way.

One thing people have not mentioned, is the use of mail folders. The first thing I do when I open my email client, is file anything that does not need immediate attention, per project name. I then read and delete all mail that has no substance, or is not my fight to pick.

All Im left with in my inbox, are items that need attention of follow up, and that is usually manageable within a day or less. I consider my inbox like my desk. It’s got to be clean and have a minimum of clutter.

by: The Financial Blogger | July 14th, 2010 (10:53 am)

@Daniel,

this is a very important point! I actually use folders all the time, to make sure I have read and answered my emails and be able to search through them later on!

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I don’t have a Blackberry but I guess that’s because I don’t get hundreds of emails a day. LOL. But I do find Filters feature in Yahoo and Gmail extremely important, as I am able to sort them into the proper folder and read/answer according the priority I have set for each label.

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