Get a Grip on the Email Monster
Welcome to the 21st century, and the age of being inundated with communication in every imaginable form. Email is a wonderful and efficient tool when it is utilized properly, but just a few days away from your email box and it can be overwhelming. I am a big advocate for having strategy to handle everything… having a plan to ensure that things go smoothly.
When you set up email accounts, set up at least 2, or 3 accounts. Here is the strategy:
- Set up one email just for your business – Make the email address clearly your business name and use it only for business contacts. My business email receives all of the updates on schedules, contacts with shopkeepers, customers, and is the place I send out my e-zine updates from. Set a strict rule that you will only use this account for business related correspondence and don’t stray from that rule.
- Set up one email just for you personally – Make this email box for all of your personal issues, concerns and correspondence. Things like communications with the PTA, the volunteer effort you do, and a place for your friends to communicate with you.
- Set up one email just for junk – Want to sign up for that contest, sweepstakes, or give your email out to someone you don’t know well…. This is the mailbox to use. Think of this as the junk box you don’t go to often…. It will receive tons of otherwise unwanted communication.
Depending upon your volume of use, I would recommend setting aside 15-20 minutes twice a day to look through your business and personal account. If your business is more demanding, perhaps plan to check emails once per hour. The junk box should be neglected unless you really need to find something. It is there to spare your functional accounts of the excessive emails.
Now that we have the layout of mailboxes established, let’s look at some popular recommendations for dealing with email:
- Use the features built into your email software to screen, or organize your incoming correspondence. Gmail allows you to set priorities depending upon the sender, or content which allows you to get the highest priority emails displayed first. Outlook and Lotus Notes allow you to set up rules that automatically move your incoming emails into folders you set up. For example: All of our soap supply vendor emails automatically route to a folder marked “Soap Supply Vendor”. These features allow you to efficiently review emails, and in the case of the rules to folder, save you a step in filing emails.
- Concise distilled subject line – clearly define why you are sending the email in your subject. This helps you as well as the recipient categorize and file your email.
- Write email concisely –Say what you need to say in as simple a way as you can. Short and sweet is best.
- Don’t say in email what you should say in person – email can be misunderstood because there is an obvious absence of expression, tone, facial expression. Your email can be taken in a completely different light than intended so use caution on making comments that can sound judgmental or accusatory.
- Apply a signature line – most email applications allow you to create a signature. It is a good policy to have current contact information listed there, to include:
Your Company Name
Web Address or physical address if it is a store
- Go mobile – set up your email accounts on your smart phone, and turn on features like alerts for your incoming business email. You are no longer tied to your pc, but are free to catch correspondence on the fly.
Email is a wonderful tool, but like all tools, you control how it is used. Take charge, organize your accounts, and apply some simple strategy to keep this tool in check and working for you.