For the last two months, I’ve been changing the way I view my email accounts. I’ve noticed that NOTHING I get is ever an emergency that needs action this very minute. I’ve also noticed that if I don’t read my email until 11 a.m., I accomplish more and when it’s time to read my email, I can go through it much quicker — to answer, delete, or move to an appropriate folder.
Email can be so time-consuming, it’s not surprising that in his book, "The 4-Hour Workweek", Tim Ferriss recommends creating an automatic email that says you read your email once or twice a day. (I’ve read the book and used this one idea, but found many ideas from the book to not be relationship friendly, so I gave the book away.)
Here’s an automated note I like because it’s customer service oriented…
Thank you for contacting Elevating Your Business.
In an effort to better serve my clients best and attend to requests for Interview Sessions, information, etc., I am reading my email at 11am, 3pm, and once after hours..
I’m also returning all phone calls that are not in regard to orders twice per day, too. All calls regarding orders will be taken as they are received.
Your email and phone calls are important, and therefore I want to give you all the time you deserve. Our system of returning non-order emails and phone calls will help us accomplish this.
Remember: never leave orders of any sort or questions about orders on voice-mail or send them to us in an email. Always call us.
Any other words your Compliance Officer prefer go here.
Here are a few more email productivity tips from me:
1. Create a REMOVE Folder
Always unsubscribe to newsletters you realize you don’t want. However, instead of interrupting your day to find the unsubscribe link and verifying they actually unsubscribed you, do this instead: Create a REMOVE folder in your inbox. Quickly move any unwanted emails into that folder. Then, pick a day each week (I like Friday afternoons) to go into that folder and unsubscribe to anything you no longer want.
2. Create Different Email Addresses
This tip works when you own a website domain name on a hosting service that allows multiple email addresses. I create an email address to receive mail for many different aspects and functions of my business: my business cards, newsletters I read, my clients, the forms people fill out to contact me or apply for a free session, my website, etc. I set filtering rules so these email addresses divert to different Outlook folders. When I’m busy, I can quickly scan my Inbox and make sure I read email from my clients and prospects.
Enjoy these tips collaboratively brought to you by a few of my clients or newsletter subscribers!
3. Where Did I Put My Member ID#?
I create a SUBSCRIPTIONS folder where I put all the “Welcome” emails from accounts I create, such as my airline points club or online shopping retailers. They always have the contact information on them if I need to reach someone from that organization, and sometimes it reminds me which login name I used to subscribe or lists my member ID number. Many times, the Welcome email also gives me links to forums or other handy information that I know I’ll want to refer to later, but not necessarily add to my "master list" of logins and passwords. Creating a special folder saves me a lot of time because I don’t have to look through all the email in my inbox to find them.
— Chris Mifsud, WordWizard, Orlando, FL http://www.wordpowermarketing.com/
[Maria’s comment: I do something similar. I keep all my passwords in a folder called "Passwords".]
4. Dealing With Several Email Accounts
Having a few email accounts, my tip is to make folders in each account along with setting up rules for mail to automatically be moved to each folder. I have folders for each of the associations I’m a member of, each client, prospect, etc. I check daily and sort what didn’t get in the files. I review emails from clients I’m working with that week or associations whose meetings I’m attending soon. If I don’t have time to read them in the morning, I read them at my leisure at night. Because I use folders, I take care of what’s most important first and then read the rest later.
— Cindy Worden, Founder, Bookkeeping Etc., Piece and Kitsap County, WA www.linkedin.com/in/cindyworden/
[Maria’s comment: If you use Outlook (and a few other email programs), set up all your emails to arrive in one place. I have a few (older) personal email accounts (using Comcast, Gmail or Yahoo). When I send/receive in Outlook, I automatically get ALL my emails. I also set up a rule so that the mail from each personal account automatically goes into a folder named with that email account.]
5. Create Rules
Direct emails that come in from certain carriers, vendors, and clients to automatically go to certain staff members. That way your staff can be informed and help get a jump start on tasks. Have conversations ahead of time with your staff so it is clear who takes the initiative and responsibility. You can also use rules to block spam and certain vendors to reduce email clutter.
— Elaine M. Shanley, CFP®, AIF®, Partner at Young and Company, Brooklandville, MD www.yco.com
[Maria’s comment: Spend the time and learn how to use Rules. They will save you oodles of time! Start here: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/outlook-help/create-a-rule-HP005242897.aspx
6. Automatic Emails
I create “standard” email responses for questions I consistently receive. I maintain these responses as Drafts in Outlook. Then, when a question comes in, I click on the draft, forward the email, take out the “FW:”, customize as necessary, and hit send. HUGE time saver.
— Kim Bryant, CPA, Lincoln, NE http://bryant-associates.com/ @bryantcpa
[Maria’s comment: I send myself the email and maintain them in a folder called AutoMessages.]
7. Just One Click (For MS Outlook 2010 Users)
Is there someone (or a group of someones) you often email? Instead of starting to type out an email address and hoping it’s in the list of people you’ve recently emailed, use “Quick Steps”. Introduced in Outlook 2010, you can accomplish frequently-performed Outlook tasks in one click! Quick Steps are located on the Home Ribbon. Leonard send me his instructions on this tip; however, I’m unable to post the photos in this article. You can find the instructions on the Microsoft website, here.
— Leonard N. Katz, CRC®, RFC®, MFP™, S K Management Consultants Inc, Long Island, NY http://www.SKmgmt.com/
[Maria’s comment: When I finally upgrade, I’ll be using this tip a lot!]
And last, but not least is this tip from the U.K.
8. Use the Latest Tools to Streamline Your Inbox
Most of us are able to keep spam out of our inbox with strong filters — but what about BACN? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bac – the stuff you have subscribed to and would like to read, if you have time, it’s just not ‘real email’! I use a tool called www.sanebox.com which has a clever system to filter out your non-urgent/essential emails automatically. It has saved me countless hours and stress staring at an overflowing email inbox!
— Alan Smith, Capital Asset Management, England & Wales www.capital.co.uk, @alanjlsmith
[Maria’s comment: Thanks, Alan, for teaching me about a different type of bacn!]
©2013 Maria Marsala guides high-achieving independent financial advisors to reach their 5-year business and personal goals in 24 months. She is a business coach, speaker, and a former Wall Street Trader. Named one of the Top 30 International Coaching Gurus in 2011, Maria has been recognized as a thought leader whose ideas have been published in Financial Planning Magazine, RIA Biz, Advisor Max, Dow Jones, The Street, Entrepreneur Magazine, and numerous books, trade journals, and magazines. She has authored four business-building workbooks including, Attracting Clients You Love Working With: 6 Steps to a Profitable Client Base.
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What’s your best email productivity tip? Tell us below!