I truly believe I’m in a love-hate relationship with emailing, and I know I’m not the only one, because I’m often asked about tips for being more efficient in the office, specifically regarding email. Now, before I share my “secrets”, please note – I’m not perfect. These “secrets” keep me on the struggle buss on the daily, and my inbox is hardly ever squeaky clean, but following a few tips I’ve learned over the years at least helps, and that’s my goal for you, to help you! Some or most of you may already know these tips, and some may have other tips (which I would gladly read in the comments!) Having a busy and growing inbox can mean great things for business, so yay you!
- ORGANIZE. I’m a strong user of folders to keep things organized. I have a folder for everything from client events and sessions to receipts and shopping ads (do they ever stop?!) and the list is constantly growing and evolving. Having everything separated into folders allows me to easily go back and review a conversation, look up someone’s email, or find that coupon! *Pro-Tip! You can automate certain emails to go into folders so you don’t have to! For example, all of my emails from shopping retailers go straight to the “Shopping” folder, so they aren’t cluttering my inbox and (who are we kidding) tempting me with all the sales! On a perfect day, I’ll have answered and organized all emails to be left with absolutely nothing in my inbox folder!
- TIME BLOCK. Set aside time in the morning and evening (or whenever works for you really) to sit and do all of your emailing at once. I personally set timers to see how many emails I can go through in 30 minutes! That way you don’t have emails pinging at you all day long causing unnecessary distractions! Once I took control of my inbox (hello five hour marathon), an hour split into two thirty minute blocks twice a day is about all it takes!
- PRIORITIZE. Answer client emails first. They are who you’re serving, and should be made first priority! Once you’ve responded you can organize into folders (I keep every email whether they book or not) for future reference.
- USE TEMPLATES. No, I don’t think you should make a template for every single email. However, if you find yourself sending similar emails in responses to the same questions, templates come in handy. Emails should still be personal, but a template can save a lot of time in figuring out the bones of your email and ensure you don’t forget anything! Blogging is also a great way to answer questions, for example, what to wear for your session! I have clients ask me all the time, so I direct them to that post and it’s simple and easy! (Just like I’ll use this post to answer people on saving time in the inbox!)
- SORT BY DATE. When I sit down to answer emails, I go to the oldest emails first. That way, no one gets left behind if my timer runs out. I’ll answer emails from yesterday or the day before first, and if I run out of time, today’s email will wait until the evening or next day, but then be on the top of my virtual pile.
- DON’T FORGET THE JUNK. Sure, this can be overwhelming, but so can your inbox! The last thing you want is a client email ending up in the junk folder, never to be read, ever! So once a week I take a look in the Junk folder, move anything to the inbox if needed, and clear it out!