Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Improve Productivity: 5 Tips For Managing Email

This article was submitted by MCC Guest Blogger Stephanie Shalofsky of The Organizing Zone.

Getting your NYC office organized goes way beyond clearing the extraneous papers that are piled up on your desk, credenza and possibly even the floor. It also involves adopting good habits for managing the hundreds (maybe thousands) of e-mails that are cluttering up your inbox. Scanning through these messages can be as overwhelming as sorting through the paper piles that surround you. 

Identifying ways to more effectively manage e-mail is of interest to many business owners as the typical business e-mail user sends/receives 110 messages each day and can spend a significant amount of time managing them. This task is further complicated if you have a tendency to use your inbox as your ongoing to-do list. The inbox should be no more than a temporary holding location for new messages until they have been processed and deleted, filed or placed in an action folder.  

Below are my top 5 tips for productively managing email.  

1. Be proactive. Take control of your e-mail. Establish a schedule for checking your inbox at set intervals during the day. Process the messages during each interval, responding to those that can be addressed in 2 minutes or less and moving those that will require more time into an Action Folder so that you can address during time that has been scheduled to do so.

2. Set a maximum. In order to keep the number of e-mails in your inbox at a very manageable level, determine the maximum number of e-mails that you will allow to collect in the inbox. Once this quantity has collected, your priority task for the day will be processing your e-mails so that you are back in control.  

3. Write concise messages. The single best way to improve productivity is to structure e-mail messages that are both clear and concise, use bullet points and short paragraphs for a quick read, identify the next steps and focus on only one subject.

4. Is it necessary? Get into the habit of determining if an email should be drafted before starting to type. Assess whether the information that is being communicated is complete, relevant and timely. If it is, there is a good chance that the issue or question can be completely addressed with a minimum of back/forth.

5. Avoid “one word” responses. Replying “Thanks” or “Great” to messages that you receive is not only a time waster for the recipient but could also add unwanted mail in your inbox. He/She will need to spend a few seconds opening the message and while there is no need to respond may be tempted to do so.

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