HANDS UP WHO GETS TOO MUCH EMAIL?
I’m going to take a wild guess that most of you have your hands in the air at this point (Or that none of you do, because you all know I can’t ACTUALLY see you, right?): as a blogger, I get so much email every day that I sometimes feel like it’s answering email that’s my job, not blogging, but I know that my non-blogger friends are in a similar situation, and that, for many of us, “inbox zero” is just an impossible dream.
Well, it doesn’t really need to be: here are some strategies I’ve been using to help me manage my email more effectively…
// SUPER SPAM-FILTER
A few weeks ago, I finally got around to figuring out the junk mail settings on my email client (Mozilla Thunderbird, just in case you’re interested…). Now, I realise how pathetic and obvious that sounds, and, in my defence, I THOUGHT I’d done that already. As it turned out, though, I’d obviously messed up somewhere along the line, because after a few tweaks, I’d managed to drastically reduce the amount of email I was receiving – to the point that I actually started to worry that I was missing something important, if I’m perfectly honest. The lesson? Even if you think you have your spam filters enabled, double-check: you might be pleasantly surprised to learn there’s more you can do to cut down on spam.
// DON’T BE AFRAID TO DELETE
It seems really rude not to reply to an email, but I’ve come to realise that if I were to sit and type a personal response to every single email I get, that would be literally ALL I’d get done every day. I delete anything that seems like a mass-mailing, or which is very impersonal – I know that might sound harsh, but I provide a lot of information on my various websites, and my rationale is that if the person sending the email couldn’t take the time to have a quick look at the site they’re contacting me about, and write a personal email, I don’t really see why I should feel obliged to write them a personal response. In business – and in life -you have to figure out what your priorities are, and answering the same questions over and over (and over and over) again can’t be one of mine, unfortunately.
// CREATE STOCK RESPONSES TO FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
With that said, there are some questions which, tedious or not, do have to be answered, and as these tend to be the same questions that crop up time and time again, my solution is to create a set of stock responses, which I can simply copy and paste into the reply box. Yes, it might sound impersonal, but you can word your canned responses in such a way as to sound less so, and at least the person is getting a response, right?
// SET ASIDE TIME EACH DAY/WEEK TO REPLY TO EMAILS
Because I use my inbox a bit like a “To Do” list, Inbox Zero really IS an impossible dream for me most of the time. I love the feeling of accomplishment I get from an empty inbox, though (Don’t laugh, I have to get my kicks somehow…), so I like to set aside time each week to go through my email, and reply to everything that’s outstanding. I obviously reply to urgent emails when I get them (I know a lot of people swear by the technique of answering everything as quickly as possible, but I just can’t get to grips with that!), but for everything else, well, that’s what Friday mornings were made for. And I know it won’t last, but at least I get to go into the weekend with an empty inbox![Image]