A Better Way To Manage Email

A Better Way To Manage Email

There are tons of tools, apps and articles that offer guidance for managing email.  Part of the problem is that email is so pervasive in our daily lives that it consumes too much of almost everyone’s day.  For too long, emails are perceived as urgent and important communications.  Most are not, but that does not dismiss the fact that if you don’t respond immediately to whatever query has been posed, you are considered nonresponsive.  That’s part of the problem, but there are solutions.

Start with determining what’s most important.  There’s too much clutter in your inbox.  It’s not the number of emails that you receive daily; it’s how you prioritize what you receive.  As Greg McKeown writes in his book Essentialism there is no plural for the word priorities.  You can have multiple priorities.  Select one or two tasks, projects, initiatives, strategies that should command most of your attention and the focus of your team. 

Step two is to set boundaries.  

  • Use your signature line to establish expectations by stating when the sending can expect a reply.  You may also want to include your showroom hours.
  • When you need uninterrupted time to focus on projects, use the auto responder that tells senders that you are not available and when you are scheduled to return.
  • Publicize email response times on your website and social media platforms.
  • Identify messages that will be ignored, blocked or sent to the junk folder, such as unsolicited proposals.
  • Establish expectations and guidelines at the start of every new project with principal parties, e.g. owners, the team assigned to the project, trade professionals and others.
  • Be aware that your actions set expectations.  If you answer or send emails late at night, on weekends and during nontraditional showroom hours, recognize you send the message that you expect others to follow suit.  If that is not your expectation, use scheduling apps to send and/or receive emails during the timeframes that you want.

Creating expectations, boundaries and priorities can help save time, improve focus and increase productivity while eliminating the need or desire to spend too much time in your inbox.

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