I write this post from one of the most beautiful places on earth – Boracay, Philippines. Where just a couple of weeks ago myself and my wife worked from, for a whole week, and enjoyed every second of being in the ‘office’ when we were there! You might have seen some of the Virtual Assistant Video Tips that I shot when I was there, if not, check ’em out.
However, today I wanted to discuss the one thing that seems to plague entrepreneurs more than anything else nowadays. Email. It’s a common fact that gradual loss of email productivity happens to everyone, virtual entrepreneurs included. Or should I say, especially to those running or keeping track of their business online. If you’re an “emailaholic” spending more than an hour reading and answering emails at any one time, then you’re seriously in big trouble as far as I’m concerned. I’d like to throw in these five no-brainer tips on email productivity to help you fight this bad habit.
So, lets dive straight in, as I did on many occasions over my week on the beach – into the beautiful clear ocean you see above you…!
Say no to email auto-check!
There’s a Firefox plug-in that automatically checks your email for updates every minute. It surely has its own positive attribute, but it’s an irresistible bait leading to frequent email monitoring. It’s one of those biggest email productivity myths that prevents you from sticking to your disciplined approach in managing emails. The problem is, it’s most likely that you’ll drop everything just to see what’s inside your inbox once you get that notification (same in Outlook, too, obviously!). There’s a better approach to not giving into temptation— don’t let it come near you. Knowing when to say no is smart way of increasing your email productivity.
Don’t sweat it. Write less!
It’s an email, not an epic literature or something. You can always pull off an email by writing less. That’s one way of boosting your email productivity. Try answering questions in bullet points. You can add a few extra details so long as it’s relevant; otherwise you not only bore your reader, but also get your message lost in the clutter. On top of that, writing a long reply slows down your response time, which is not good for business. A concise and well-written message can definitely help you upgrade your email productivity to the next level.
Use templates. Add a personal touch later!
You can increase your email productivity by using templates that help you manage answers to frequent email subjects. Be careful in using templates though. Use them as drafts, not the email per se. Don’t forget to customize those boilerplate responses for clients. They’re smart enough to distinguish a personalized email, a decided plus for your business, from a generalized one. After all, your goal is not just to increase your email productivity, but add more value to your business simply by responding to an email.
Just delete it… Seriously!
Even if it’s not spam and you know in your heart that the email is not worth your time, just delete it. Listen to your instincts. Get rid of emails that add no value to you or your business. If more than half of what you receive from a particular sender are “almost spam” emails, better archive and sort them later – if you really have to. The same strategy works for emails that don’t need your urgent response. That’s one powerful way of increasing your email productivity almost immediately.
Make it a habit!
Are there any email productivity habits that you aim for? It can be any of those mentioned above. It can be all of them. Or it can be other email productivity habits introduced to you by other websites or authors such as David Allen of Getting Things Done. The key to achieving these habits is by acquiring them one by one— not all at once. Focus on a habit, let’s say for month or two, and once completed you can move on to the next. Time to get serious with your email productivity!
So, there you go – a quick round-up of tips I put into place – sometimes all the time, sometimes just when I need them – but, the bottom line is that they ALL work. Are there any tips that you’d like to share with the readers? If so, please leave them in the comments section below.