Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Organizing Your Email And Increase Your Productivity

Organizing your email can be a challenge for anyone. Email has taken the place of memos in business, correspondence in your personal life and direct mail marketing. There are newsletters, special announcements, updates and of course the dreaded spam. It's easy to just open an email, think to yourself "I'll answer this later this afternoon," and then go on to the next email. Of course the email doesn't get answered and it starts to mount up.

When paper starts to stack up it nags at us to do something with it. Either file it, read it or throw it away. Email doesn't have a physical presence, so the tendency is to let it pile up in our inbox.

Important business emails can be overlooked. Dates can be missed and opportunities lost because the important email is sitting there in virtual stacks of the other emails. When you go to look for an email about the luncheon meeting this afternoon, it could have been unintentionally deleted, in the spam folder, or caught between two announcements of Junior's soccer game.

Organizing your email can be accomplished using the same methods of organizing hard copy papers. Set up folders on your email program under main categories. For example you could have Personal, Marketing, Newsletters, Family, and Important – Needs Attention. This is an over simplification as there are probably 10 to 15 different categories for each of us that would make sense. Those categories depend on your work, business and personal interests.

If you get a lot of email, say more than 50 (not counting spam) a day, go through the new email at set times of the day, once in the morning, once after lunch, and once around about an hour before you're ready to quite work for the day.

Answer the email immediately upon opening if it's just a simple request or requires an easy response, then file it under the appropriate folder. A lot of email is just an update that doesn't require any action on your part so file that in the correct folder immediately as well.

If the email requires research before responding put it in the Important- Needs Attention folder. Every morning go through that folder and address the unanswered emails and then file in the appropriate folder.

Every week go through each folder and delete those emails that have been answered and don't require any follow up. If you prefer you can move the email to a holding folder for 30 days and then delete.


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