Streamline Your Time With Email Management
Welcome to 2019! Yep, ready or not folks, it's here. I am huge a fan of resolutions. I try to make goals all throughout the year, but there is something about the New Year that really puts things into perspective. As a family, we have already laid out the trips we plan on taking this year ( and a big one in 2020), modifications we would like to make to our house and, as always, the always lingering goal of eating better. I've been working on that last one the last few years and I think this year might be the year!
I'm sure you are currently taking stock of what you can do in 2019 to make this year the best year for you and your business. Perhaps you are looking to earn more money, move to a new location or even take on a different quality of projects. What I have learned over the last few years is regardless of your goal, the first steps to achieving it typically lie in the the basics of how your business is managed. Big changes could result from something as seemingly mundane as your email inbox.
When you think about it, how much information do you have stored in your inbox? Your meetings, products details, product orders, client availability... How many times has that information been misplaced? We live in a world when people often expect immediate responses, but if you are checking your email all day, when are you going to have time to do anything else? If you are interested, we can help you with that! In the meantime, here are some simple tricks you can implement now to make your email management more efficient.
- Limit how often you check you email-
How many times do stop a task to check your email? Then think of how long that simple email check takes you. Maybe you were looking for one specific response, but that one hasn't come in yet, but three others did. You take a peek at those, but you aren't ready to dedicate the time to draft complete responses to those emails, you mark them unread and vow to come back to them later. Sound familiar? What was going to be a quick 30-60 second check evolved into a wasted 10-15 minutes of your day in which nothing was accomplished. Now multiply that by how many times you do that in a day. Ouch.
It is stressful to think of avoiding your email for hours at a time, but your productivity will increase and you'll be able to approach tasks more thoughtfully! First, set the expectation for your clients with an auto-responder. You know that banks are typically closed by 5 P.M., and during weekends and holidays so your inquiry will be answered when a representative is available. You already have that expectation which removes the anxiety of waiting for a response when you won't be getting one. In your auto-responder, acknowledge the sender, advise of y0ur typical business hours and times you usually check and respond to emails.
Automating your tasks helps to eliminate a lot of unnecessary communication, and therefore, wasted time. When I used to work in social services, we were often coordinating meeting times with no less than 4 different people or entities. In interior design, that's not uncommon when you are scheduling electrical and plumbing walk-throughs, or cabinet meetings. When requesting a meeting time, we were always advised to start with the times we were available, rather than asking the other individuals availability to limit some of the back and forth. To take it to the next level of efficiency, you can allow people to schedule time directly on your website or from a link on your email. This may not work as well for multiple individuals, but works fantastically for individual meetings. Most calendars like the Wix calendar that I use, or Calendly, will sync with your gmail calendar to avoid double booking appointments.
Creating folders and organizing your emails can be time consuming, depending on how in depth you would like to go, but totally worth it in the end. If nothing else, create a folder for the emails that need more immediate, in depth responses. Storing emails relevant to specific design projects will help to ensure that you wont lose valuable information should you need to review it later, but dividing them between clients can get confusing, be inefficient and hard to commit to. For the individuals like me who are looking for fast and efficient organization, I found a process detailed in an article here that seems to be the most efficient I have come across and has easy visual reminders that will keep you on task. The article by Fast Company suggests that you create inboxes based on due dates, such as today, this week, this month and FYI. The due dates help you to keep on top of tasks that need your immediate attention, and the FYI is a holding space for informational emails that do not require a response.
-Hire Email Management-
Imagine you only had to look at the emails that needed your attention. What if someone could file your emails for you and provide you a summary of what has come through and what needs your attention. When I worked in a design office, I often remember hearing my boss tell me that she felt she was always at her computer, always responding to emails and even when she checked her emails first thing, she had 20 more by lunch. What a waste of valuable design time, not to mention, typically these emails don't necessarily need a response, don't apply as billable hours and just add more time to your day that takes you away from the things you love and enjoy. In my quest to provide more administrative services to designers, this was one of the first options added because it gets right to the heart of your work day and allows you to what you do best, run your business and build your brand. If you are interested, send us a note!
How have you managed your email to this point? Have you found yourself falling into one of these traps? Hopefully these tips help to lead your to a more organized and productive 2019!