We all get a lot of emails in our small (and maybe a work at home business) – understatement of the day!
I have my own system for handling emails because often to me this is not really productive time.
Let’s just discuss the whole approach of when and how often to deal with emails.
There are many ways of doing this and for me this is a “do it when you want to” approach but adopt a strict handling policy when you do.
We all can do this differently. My email inbox is only about 60 to 70 per day so it isn’t as big as when I worked in the corporate World. BUT if you look at the time element then that is at least 100 minutes per day. A lot of time spent doing more productive work would make me feel better.
So what do I do that enables me to keep this under control.
Firstly when I started my Work at home business I set up email boxes that are as follows:
a) One for my personal emails only.
b) One for primary business emails.
c) One for everything else
d) One where clients or potential clients can send me a direct email.
Why you ask do I have so many?
- They are free.
- They streamline the inbound emails for me without me doing anything other than making sure I give out the right email address for the right type of traffic.
- I then spend most time on the most important emails only.
- If I get an email into box D then I know that is most important and I can leap on it.
- If I get emails to box C I know I can review it quickly to see what has come in, but clear it out once a week or two, knowing that there should not be anything time critical in there.
- Emails in box B get daily attention throughout the day when I have a few minutes to spare and I make a note that the number of emails left in this box doesn’t get above 50 at any time. If it does (say when I am travelling) then I take time out at the end of a day to reduce the number back down (the average number left here is 10).
- Emails into box A get dealt with each day and often by my good wife.
So this system works for me and is effortless.
How do I tackle each email?
Well here I take a leaf out of the way we used to deal with paperwork.
- Golden rule – wherever possible read once only and deal with it.
- Straight to the bin for those I don’t even want to read (a lot of these crop up in Box C). You need to recognise that you simply don’t need to read everything that comes to you. Scam offers are naively similar, and I never take them up – so bin it. I also make sure I am not subscribed to something I don’t need- then no more emails from that source – it takes a while but it is worth it.
- Read and bin. I learnt long time ago exactly what I needed to read by taking too much time to read everything in Box B. Now I am very selective, the rest get binned often without being read (even better).
- Read and may use later. This is the equivalent of reading a paper article and putting it to one side for later use. This is dangerous and I find that 80 to 90% of the stuff I put aside like this does not get used. So I approach it slightly differently. If I am sure I can use something I either
– Put it in my articles to read file on my iPad or
– I open the article and leave it open. This forces me to deal with it at some time during the day as I always close out at end of day.
So the main aims of my system which seems to work fairly well are:
- Streamline inbound emails based on priorities and types.
- Deal with emails as and when during the day – don’t make it a burden.
- Put other more productive work ahead of emails.
- Touch them once wherever possible, read and bin or reply.
- Force the file of “to be used emails” to be as small as possible – use or bin.
I hope this helps. It is not perfect but developed over a period of some 14 months and you may be able to adapt it to your needs – hope you can.
Any questions or comments please leave them below.
Yours in business
Please feel free to share this article.