You are probably always connected to something, iPhone, blackberry, iPad, laptop, computer; something electronic that demands your time and attention. And all applications and gadgets nowadays allow you to connect to the internet in seconds and check everything you want anytime you want. If you are like me and most of the human race, you probably check e-mail a couple dozens times a day just because it is so easy and available, you think why not.
Besides, you tell yourself that you must check email because it is an essential part of doing business these days. And yes, you are right email is a must nowadays specially for a small business owner like yourself. But, is it really helping your business? Is your business growing and making more money because of your email management? Or is email taking over your existence and not letting you concentrate on the important tasks that you should be doing in order to make your small business a success.
The answer is probably yes, your email is controlling you. Your email inbox is overflowing, you are trying to get to all of them and you think you need to check it constantly. Email is sucking your time, energy and focus from other essential things you should be doing to make your small business grow and make money, which is your ultimate goal. You want your business to be successful. You want to be a successful business owner. I know that Email is nice and great. But, you should make it work for you and not the other way around. You don’t owe anything to email, you owe it to your business. So in this article, I will show you some proven techniques to manage your email, and show your inbox who’s boss.
1. Check email only twice a day - This may seem a bit extreme but it’s not. Think about it, when you check email you tend to spend a lot of time trying to answer all the emails or take action in what people are requesting through email. Or even worse, you want to clean all that junk email that clutters your inbox. But, this is time consuming and it is probably keeping you from your to do list. So, I suggest you pick two times during the day when you will diligently check your inbox and take care of the emails that you can at that time.
You can choose times that work for you and are at least four hours apart. For example, I like checking mine at 11 am and 3 pm. But a word of advise, don’t check email first thing in the morning because if it is the first thing you do, then it will suck all the morning time and it will derail you from other tasks you wanted to complete before answering emails. Even if you take just one hour before going into your inbox, just to finish up any projects or tasks that you need to complete would be more productive than diving into email first thing in the morning. Because the email messages will clutter your brain and your to do list will change. It’s not your fault, it happens to all of us, we see an email, we want to take care of the issue right away or figure out how to do it, or even send a happy hello back to a friend of ours that just wanted to say hi via an email message. But when you do this, everything else that you planned gets pushed back.
I know it is hard, and most people check email first thing in the morning, but think of the logic behind this advise. Before your attention gets derailed and your mind gets bombarded by messages, written requests or the friendly hello, try to finish what you wanted and needed to finish. Email will be there, waiting, being readily available for you whenever you are ready for it. Besides, if it is something that cannot wait, someone will call you – really urgent matters are not sent via email.
2. Don’t wait, if you have an answer respond immediately- If you are checking emails and you know what to respond, then do it right away. Don’t wait until later, just take care of it at that moment. Then you can just forget about it. Because if you wait or leave it for later, it will take time from other important matters that you need to take care of. It may seem like a hassle at the time because you think that you can always come back to it later, but think about it, why would you leave it lingering when you can answer it right away. It will save you time and sanity later.
3. Set a time and action for the emails that require more time and research – This means that you cannot take care of all emails at once, some will require some follow up and research. So, set a time in your calendar to take care of these emails, and add an action that you have to take to resolve it. Try to be specific, for example, don’t write for your action, “Email Dave with Response,” instead write something more action specific like “Email Dave answer after finalizing deal with John on Monday.” A very specific action will require you to actually do something not just answer an email.
4. Delete all the junk mail at once – I know it is boring and time consuming but the alternative is far worse. Because you know that after three days of seeing crap in your inbox you will get fed up and delete everything, so if something is garbage then delete it right away and forget about it. If it’s out of your sight, it’s out of your mind.
5. Set a time to check Facebook, Twitter and any other Social Media – I know it is fun to check these things, I do it too. But I know it is a waste of time during the day when you can be doing things that can actually grow your business and make you more money. The temptation is there, so just pick a time during the day when you will give in to this social media temptation. I usually do it after dinner, when my kids are sleeping and I can just chill with my online life – try it with a glass of wine or hot cocoa.
Finally, remember that just because we have all this technology and access at any time all the time, it does not mean we have to be connected or checking something all the time. Your desktop, laptop, iPad, iPhone, blacberry, cell phone will always be there waiting for you, so use them to your ultimate advantage, which should be growing your business and making money. Good luck controlling your email!If you found this helpful, please share it below. Thank you!