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Email takes up a lot of time – especially if your job heavily involves the internet.
Since checking your email is merely a fraction of everything you need to accomplish for the day, spending a disproportionate amount of time dealing with email headaches can throttle your ability to power through more important tasks.
Having an email strategy is crucial for getting things done in a timely manner.
These hacks will help you create a solid strategy.
1. Create a Priority List
Not all emails require a response, but you may feel compelled to respond anyway.
Create a list of priorities.
What kind of inquiries need to be answered? Which kind of emails don’t necessarily need to be answered, but you’d still like to get to them? What kind of emails do you dread responding to? On sight, sort emails into tiers of high, middle, and low importance.
Get to high priority emails immediately, middle when you can fit them in, and low whenever you have the time to spare (or even not at all).
2. Make Some Response Templates
There’s probably a few things you mention in every email. Rather than typing them out every time you send off an email, create a few response templates you can use in different scenarios. Just plug in the relevant information and click send. Even if you need to modify certain sections of the template, you’re still saving a lot more time than you would have if you created an entirely original draft each time.
Put a lot of thought into these templates, since you’ll only write them once. Always follow proper email etiquette rules, and avoid writing templates that sound robotic. Once you’ve created them, you can use a tool like Gmail’s Canned Response to save the templates.
3. Create a List of Resources
If you haven’t already, create a basic FAQ that addresses a lot of the redundant questions you generally receive by email. For important questions that require in-depth answers, create a longer blog post or dedicated page that addresses those issues. Rather than explaining everything, direct the sender to the location of the answers.
They may even stumble upon answers to questions they haven’t asked you yet. Give people the tools to serve themselves.
4. Optimize Your Spam Filter
If you’re getting a lot of garbage emails that are wasting your time, toy with the settings on your spam filter.
Most email providers allow you to manually input terms into their spam filters.
Think about recurring themes in your junk mail, and filter the keywords they use.
All of the garbage will actually make it to the junk folder on its own, freeing you up for emails of actual value.
5. Use a Great Footer
Do you have a customized email signature saved? It should have more than just your name, number, and the company you work for. Include as much relevant information as you possibly can in that footer.
Link the FAQs and resources you’ve written, and include alternative contact information for your company.
Social networking and blog links are a bonus.
Having these things included at the end of every email can keep a single exchange from becoming a long conversation. Rather than asking you for more information or further clarification, the reader can simply click the links and research things on their own. Everyone saves a little time that way.
Email is only as time-consuming as you allow it to be. Spending a few hours today to set up a better system can potentially save you an hour every day in the future. The effort practically pays for itself after the first week. What will you do with all that extra time?
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