Unless you take control of your inbox, chances are that it will take control of you. If you are like me, then every time you open your email account there are 100 emails waiting to be read. Just opening them and deleting them will take one minute per mail, so just getting rid of these emails will take you more than one and a half hours. So what can you do to manage the email you receive so that you have time to do something else? Here are a few tips. For all of these tips, first click on 'Settings' in Google (and something similar in other email accounts):
The first thing you can do is give yourself time to respond. Most email services have something similar to what Google calls a “Vacation Responder”. Basically, this is an automatic response to any email received. A “Vacation Responder” is the perfect opportunity to set customer expectations, and then surpass them:
Knowing someone has received a reply and been given a time frame for a response takes some of the pressure off you and allows you to plan how to respond to improtant emails.
Set Up Folders and Rules
Although some email options like Google try to control your inbox for you, it’s difficult to say how well they do, except for removing spam (which Google is particularly good at). If you get regular emails from people, you might be able to prioritize your responses based on how important an individual is to your business.
For instance, “The Wife” emailing you and asking you to pick up a quart of milk on the way home might not quite have the same impact on the bottom line as an email from a representative of a multi-million dollar company.
In Gmail, click on settings and click on ‘Labels’ (usually ‘Folders’ in other systems). Click on “Create a New Label” – in this case, “The Wife”:
Click on “Create” and the new label/folder enters the list:
Now you need to redirect emails to this label/folder. Click on “Filters” (or something similar):
Click on “Create a new filter” and see an input field. Add your wife’s email address:
Now click on “Create filter with this search”. You are given a large number of options with which you can redirect your emails. Click on “Apply the label”:
Click on the “The Wife” (or whatever you have called your label/folder) and then click on “Create filter”. Now, every email from “The Wife” will go to that folder.
You can set up other options, such as “Skip inbox” meaning that your wife’s email doesn’t actually go to your inbox; it simply sits in the “The Wife” folder until you have time and choose to read what “The Wife” has to say.
With some imagination, you can set up folders and redirects for all of your company’s customers, meaning only the most important go directly into your inbox.
Like Gmail, most email systems allow you add stock phrases to emails so you don’t have to type a unique response to emails that arrive on a regular basis. In Gmail, these are called “Canned Responses”. To access them, first of all you have to turn them on. To do this, go to ''Settings'', and then click on “Labs”. “Enable” canned responses:
Now, when you reply to an email, you get the opportunity to add a “Canned Response” to the system:
Click on “New canned response” and add the text you are always going to use to reply to this type of query or customer:
Click on “OK” and you can choose this as a stock response to future emails:
“Canned Responses” can save oceans of time when dealing with emails you receive on a regular basis. Try them - you will be glad you did.