Top tips to tackle your overflowing email inbox

Email has become an unrivalled communication tool and the business benefits of the platform are well documented. After all, what other channel allows you to send messages to a global audience at the speed of light? However, the dexterity and accessibility of email – the very thing designed to make working lives easier – is proving a costly preoccupation for business owners.

The average office worker sends 121 emails every day, but it’s likely that SMEs– who are the heart, soul and often the voice of their business – will send far more. While continuous access to emails allows businesses to stay on top of orders and customer service queries (not to mention the marketing, HR and accounts duties), constantly checking and dedicating increasing lengths of time to ‘reply’ to every opportunity, has become a serious habit.

With emails flowing in thick and fast, small to medium sized business owners may rightly question how helpful email is when it encroaches on other areas of the business, and hinders their concentration.

SMEs must ensure they’re effectively managing their email engagement – whether it’s muting conversations you’re cc’d into needlessly, or sweeping up useless newsletters – to prevent long-lasting damage to productivity.

Write emails once

If your energy is drained retyping emails, do yourself a favour and create a template that’ll send with the touch of a button. Gmail users can set up ‘Canned Responses’ that will enable you to write a ‘Great idea! Let’s meet for coffee’ email once, and send it as many times as you need it. Here’s a quick tutorial for how to do it.

No one collects emails on purpose

Unroll.me has created an automated (and free) unsubscribe service that allows you to detach from un-needed mailing lists in one place, by simply clicking ‘x’ next to the unwanted subscription. It’s cross platform too, supporting Outlook.com (including Hotmail, MSN, & Windows Live), Gmail, Google Apps, Yahoo! Mail, AOL Mail, and iCloud.

Make a call

Why send an email when you could have a chat? A human touch will save you time and you’ll have a quick personal connection that’ll make a far more valuable lasting impression. If a call isn’t convenient, use the messenger service on Gmail, Lynx for Outlook or its equivalent on your email provider service, for a super-efficient reply.

Get email on your terms

There’s nothing wrong with delegating communication duties to take the strain off, however, as the beating heart of a great business, your voice is invaluable. Commit an hour every day to caring for your inbox, and book some exclusive time in your calendar. It could be before opening hours, or at the end of an afternoon – whenever it is, make sure it’s distraction free.

Out of office can mean, ‘I’m busy’

Remember you can also lean on out of office emails, too. Provide an urgent contact number, just in case, but otherwise nail the other 121 emails at a time that suits you (preferably, inside working hours) so you have proper headspace to respond effectively.

Switch off

Your health and happiness are paramount to both yours and your businesses’ success, so switch off your device an hour before bedtime and give yourself room for a coffee in the morning. The emails will still be there when you switch back on.

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