E-mail is something of a curse for many businesses, entrepreneurs and workers. While it's definitely a necessary evil and we need e-mail in order to effectively communicate with our colleagues, clients and business partners, it's also unfortunately something that can end up sapping a lot of our time.
If you're constantly answering and checking e-mails that means you're taking time out of your day when you could have been doing something actually useful. It means that other people are getting to set your schedule and that the work you have to do yourself is forced to take a backseat to whatever someone else wants from you. It's frustrating, time consuming and ultimately costly.
Fortunately, there are some things you can do to get your e-mail back under control and to manage it more effectively. Here they are…
1. Don't Check Them Right Away
What's the first thing you do when you get into work? If the answer is 'check your e-mails' then that's something you need to stop right away. Some people even check their e-mails first thing when they wake up.
Either way, this then means you'll be forced to respond to other people's needs and requests rather than focusing on what you need to do and it means you'll be unable to stop worrying about jobs you can't do right now anyway.
Instead, do some of your most pressing work first and then check your e-mail.
2. Set Up Folders
Setting up folders in your e-mail account is very useful for 'getting back' to your e-mails later. Create some labels/folders that correspond to various different tasks you need to complete. This way you can check your e-mail and file things away that you don't have to answer right now, but then still be able to retrieve them quickly and easily when you need them.
3. Check E-Mail at Set Times Throughout the Day
And while you're at it, turn off your notifications! It is neither helpful or healthy to be getting 'pinged' every two minutes by your annoying colleague or client. Check e-mail when it suits you, not when it suits them.
4. Have an Emergency Contact Method
One of the most important things to do is to stop answering your e-mails right away and to stop worrying about what might happen if you don't get back to X person immediately.
One way to stop yourself worrying is to make sure that your colleagues and clients know how to contact you in an emergency. Tell them to phone you if they need an urgent response but only if it's urgent. That way you know that they could contact you if they really had to so you don't need to be constantly refreshing your mail.
5. Use an Auto Responder
Auto responders let you send automated messages when you're out of the office. You can also use them when you're just 'busy' though and they're another great tool for making sure people understand that you aren't going to respond immediately.