By Kristina Schneider, Practice Success Coach
Electronic mail, otherwise known as e-mail, has become a vital and primary form of communication for most businesses. In fact, it’s the very reason you’re probably reading this newsletter article.
While e-mail has become a very efficient way to communicate and handle business, it can also become a source of major inefficiency and time-wasting in the office. Think about how much time is spent sifting through all of your daily e-mail. Double or triple that when you come back from the weekend. And let’s not even talk about how much e-mail we come back to when we return from vacation!
Whether you’re the boss, assistant, office manager or some other part of the support team, just using the following three tips will help you better manage your time when it comes to tackling that dreaded e-mail inbox.
E-MAIL INBOX MANAGEMENT TIP #1: Set Up E-mail Rules.
Many professionals use Microsoft Outlook to manage, download and check their e-mail. Within Microsoft Outlook and many other e-mail clients, you will find a setting to set up rules for when certain e-mails come in. Setting these rules can help clear up your inbox for important and more critical e-mails that deserve your attention. As a perfect example, you might be subscribed to various listserv e-mails which might result in dozens of e-mails in your e-mail inbox each day. You can set up an e-mail rule so that any e-mails that come in from the listserv are automatically moved to a specific folder. They go directly into a folder you designate and can check when you have time instead of bogging down your e-mail. To find out how to set up e-mail rules in Microsoft Outlook, click here.
E-MAIL INBOX MANAGEMENT TIP #2: Utilize Multiple E-mail Addresses.
Having multiple e-mail addresses might sound confusing and annoying to set up, but if done correctly (and particularly if combined with Tip #1), it can be a very effective way to manage your e-mail inbox. Chances are, you probably utilize one e-mail address for everything. Clients, continuing education courses, referral sources, internal e-mails amongst staff, etc. For any busy professional, that can amount to hundreds of e-mails per day. After a while, it all becomes a blur and you will definitely need to hire an assistant just to manage your e-mail! But, if you had one e-mail address that you gave out to clients to use if they needed something (for example, firstname.lastname@example.org), then you will be able to easily know which e-mails are coming in from your clients and provide them the best service. It’s also great, because you can have someone else screen that e-mail address and forward along only the important e-mails that you need to address. Another added benefit is that your clients will have an easily remembered e-mail address to contact instead of trying to remember how to spell a name, if it’s first + last name or first initial + last name, etc. And, if you ever have any personnel changes, it’s a seamless process for your clients and they will still get serviced properly by you and your firm.
The use of multiple e-mail addresses is a great way for the boss to get away and out from underneath the task of managing and monitoring e-mail. He or she might have a personal e-mail address that is only distributed internally and is the only one he or she will have access to. Any other e-mails may be screened by an assistant and only the urgent and important ones requiring the boss’ actual attention will be forwarded along to the private e-mail address.
E-MAIL INBOX MANAGEMENT TIP #3: Setup Internal Rules for E-mail Communication and Meetings or Phone Calls (If Necessary).
E-mail communication can become disruptive, regardless of your role within the company. If you find that you’re having to spend a lot of time e-mailing with a particular person in your firm, then chances are, you may be better served to hold a meeting (or even regular meetings). While e-mail communication can sometimes seem more efficient, there can also be equally a great loss of efficiency. It takes time to read through e-mails, formulate a response and respond. If e-mail starts to become too conversational or starts to take far too long to write out (or respond), request a quick phone call or meeting. It’s helpful to have regular meetings set up between key staff members that may interact and work closely together and require time to consult and communicate with one another. Those regularly scheduled meetings can be used to deflect the matters you might be currently taking the time to e-mail about. The amount of e-mail will decrease and be used for things that are merely important; items that are both urgent and important may involve an actual interruption or brought to a same day meeting.
By the way, this includes your clients. You may have created a monster by opening the floodgates to allow clients free access to you through e-mail. What might seem like a quick question, as I’m sure many of you already know, then becomes a couple more follow-up questions and so on. You are providing your clients better and more personable service by creating a process around giving them an assistant or someone else in your office who is not tied up in meetings and also having the staff member help triage your e-mails to avoid you spending unnecessary time answering questions that others can help take care of. Think of how better prepared you will be if you had a specific day and time with your client for a phone call, with the client file in front of you and their e-mail with questions. You can get everything resolved and everyone’s happy and better for it.
In summary, your e-mail inbox doesn’t have to control you, and the sooner that you get it under control, the better it will be for you and your staff’s optimal work efficiency, productivity and time management.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kristina Schneider is a Practice Success Coach for The Ultimate Estate Planner, Inc. Her primary responsibility involves consulting and assisting estate planning attorneys on a variety of practice-building and marketing strategies taught by nationally renowned estate planning attorney, Philip Kavesh.
Kristina graduated from Pepperdine University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. Immediately following her graduation, she was hired by Phil and Phil’s law firm, Kavesh, Minor & Otis, to help put together live training programs for estate planning attorneys and financial advisors. Additionally, she also served as Phil’s Executive Assistant and assisted his law firm in firm management and marketing.
Thanks to over 16 years of experience working side-by-side with Phil and in his law firm, Kristina has been able to assist numerous professionals – – and equally as important, their staff – – in the successful implementation of Phil’s systems and practice-building and marketing strategies.
You can reach Kristina by e-mail at email@example.com.
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