CHANGE YOUR EMAIL HABITS NOW!!!
You’re into digital marketing, not email drafting.
Use these 15 best-kept email secrets right away…
Howdy! So do you know how much time are you wasting in checking and managing your emails every week? Don’t look back over your shoulder! I am talking to you, yeah you right there! Any idea? Okay, let me tell you the answer. Out of your average 40 hours work week, you spend at least 32-35% of your time after emails. This is as per McKinsey Global Institute’s study on email habits of the professionals. And tell you what, this doesn’t even cover all those emails that you check in bed… at the dinner table… while taking the sub to downtown… at the movie… at your kid’s football game… on your vacation… and the list is endless, ain’ it?
Did you also know that your average daily productivity is reduced straight off by a one-fourth as you switch your tabs at least 36 times in every one hour for checking your emails? And again, this Dailymail.co.uk study doesn’t include on-the-go email browsing. So make that half rather than a fourth! This is NOT DONE, is it? So, if you are wondering whether you should read this post or not, then know that it is ‘super relevant’ to you in terms of improving your productivity and by that, the performance of your business. What makes me so credible to talk about this topic? That’s because I learnt this the hard way myself. I still remember that first email I got when my very first client gave me a go ahead for his digital marketing project. Boy, was I excited to write back to him or what? I must’ve checked the same email over and again that day. Yes, I know it was the spur of the moment and I might have ended spending up a lot more time on the email that day than I should have. But, the irony is that habit never went away, up until recently. What I realized was that it wasn’t just habitual; it was way more than that. I was ADDICTED to my inbox. So much so that I would flip my window even when my MacBook or my phone never pinged!
I so badly wanted to restrict and restrain this behavior of mine so that I could focus way more on what I really wanted to do… make more business, you see. To get more work done, checking emails at lesser times was the obvious equation. But, the problem, like any other addiction, was “will power”. The harder I tried to practice self-control, the more vulnerable my will power became. What made more sense to me than trying to control myself from checking my inbox was to be strategic about it. Emails are a separate wing of the business and they should be treated as such.
Brace yourself as I am about to share some of the most effective ways that will change your email habits forever. But, before I do that, I ask for a small thing off of you. Let’s make a deal. If you read this, you’re making yourself a commitment to implement it, if not all then at least most of it. Alright then, hear me out and free yourself from the email addiction here on out!
Secret 1: Slot out your email hours
Give yourself a certain fixed period of the day only to check and work on your emails. But before you do that, do a test experiment. Go one full day without responding to any email. No matter how critical it might, just don’t! Well, “world won’t end there and there’s always tomorrow.” Well, my point is that it will give you a sense of what’s the business slot of your day in terms of emails. And, once you’ve figured that out, book those slots in your daily planner dedicatedly for the emails.
Secret 2: Hold the big threads
I learned about this trick by reading one of Eric Schmidt’s interviews. He said that he would only respond to small emails that take less than a couple of minutes first. And if he sees longer emails with a list of questions, he wouldn’t touch those until he is into his dedicated slot for managing emails in the day. So, if it’s a long email, finish what you are working on first rather than leaving it half way and switching the gears.
Secret 3: Relentless forwarding
Do you really need to revert to that email? Can someone else whose job it is actually to respond to your emails not handle it? If the answer is affirmative, then just keep forwarding those emails ruthlessly. And if you don’t necessarily need to see what’s happening in that thread after you’ve forwarded it to someone else, then tell’em bluntly that you should be removed from the chain entirely.
Secret 4: The tri-folder inbox
Email is the constructive tool for your business, only if you keep away from its disruptive force. And that’s why you need to better organize your email folder. My trick is to break it into three most basic sub folders: a) Act, b) hold and c) archive. This will also help you allocate your time toward emails appropriately.
Secret 5: The 30-day challenge
If you’re like me, you must be swamped with over 1000 unread emails in your inbox. And it’s darn well difficult to get your hands around these many emails, ain’ it? So, here’s what I have to suggest. Give yourself a challenge for the next 30 days. Don’t leave your work until you only have under 50 emails in the day, which are the ones that can wait overnight for the response. And also during these 30 days, you would need to respond to the emails within 24 hours. Yes, it can sound daunting and overwhelming to an extent, but trust me it’s only so at the start. Once you’ve gone through this challenge, you can manage your emails pretty effectively.
Secret 6: Unsubscribe
Amongst your most active and recurring conversations in the inbox also are those salesy emails and newsletters which distract your attention and eat up your time unnecessarily. So, unsubscribe. And do it ruthlessly. Before you subscribe to any new list, filter out the existing ones by abandoning the ones that you don’t want to see any more. An app called unroll.me can come handy in uncluttering and consolidating as well as organizing the emails.
Secret 7: Create a triage
Let me run you through a little bit of history first. Back in the Napoleonic wars, they came up with this concept of triage for the medical emergencies of the soldiers. The wounded were allotted to one of the three categories: a) the ones who will most likely die, even after receiving the treatment, b) the ones who will survive anyways, and c) those we need immediate treatments in order to survive. You gotta’ apply the same concept to your inbox too. Spend lesser time on the emails that don’t require any research. Spend more time, but only in your daily scheduled hours for the emails, on those emails that require looking up the web for information. And the third category belongs to those emails which are purely spam in nature.
Secret 8: The ‘High intensity – Low intensity’ rule
If you take a sprint at answering emails for almost an hour and a half, give yourself a break worth 15 minutes or so. Keep this time for the low-intensity email tasks like scheduling tasks and going through the email triage. This will help you in managing your alertness while managing the emails.
Secret 9: Write for the mobile readers
On their mobile screens, your email recipients are only interested in reading what’s above the fold. Anything longer and they will keep it for “later”, which means the chances are that your email gets lost and will never be read again. So, if your time is being used up in writing longer emails when you can actually manage with a fewer sentences, you should consider mobile screen as a boundary for your email text. Put simply, if you keep your emails shorter, not only do you save time and energy, but more importantly your email open rates and click through rates go high by over 300%.
Secret 10: Use ready-made responses
On an average, it’s been observed that over half of the emails received in a typical business day are asking for the same or similar type of response. So, why waste time typing the same response time and again? Most of the email providers like Outlook and Gmail have a canned response functionality included. Using them will help you save your time drastically which can then be used more productively elsewhere. In your Gmail account, this feature is available in the settings tab (the gear icon) under the ‘Labs’ label. You can enable your canned responses from here. And in Outlook, go to ‘Preferences’ and then ‘Signature’. You can type your canned responses under different names along with your signature. And you can easily switch between these canned responses to save up on the time.
Secret 11: Keeps templates handy
For the repeated nature emails, as mentioned above, ready-made or canned frameworks work the best and help you save up a lot on your time and energy. Simultaneously, when you have to create fresh emails, keeping pre-created templates handy would help in speeding up the whole process. Whether you’re drafting and RFP email or blogger outreach or partnership opportunity or a simple lunch request, a single template could serve pretty much all these purposes. One thing that would end up taking a lot of your time while you draft new email templates is the writer’s fatigue. Many online email providers offer ready-made templates which you can easily copy and paste into your email browser and personalize it further as per your requirements.
Secret 12: Keyboard shortcuts can save you heaps of time while using Gmail
Email shortcuts are always a bliss, but more so when you have a time crunch and would rather use your time elsewhere than drafting hefty emails. Here are some keyboard shortcuts that would prove to be effective for you: The ‘n’ and ‘p’ keys would help you switch through your previous and next messages in the inbox. To expand your message or collapse it, use the Enter key. To add a Cc recipient, hit Ctrl+Shift+c. To add a Bcc recipient, use Ctrl+Shift+b. To change the from address, use Ctrl+Shift+f. To send your email, use ⌘/Ctrl + Enter. To insert a link, hit ⌘/Ctrl + k. To find the misspelled words, use either ⌘/Ctrl + ; or ⌘/Ctrl + ‘. Similarly, for spelling suggestions, use ⌘/Ctrl + m. To open the email in new window, hit Shift+r. And here are some more shortcuts: x = select conversation, s = toggle star, y = remove label, e = archive, m = mute conversation, ! = report as spam, # = delete, r = reply, a = reply all, Shift+r = reply all, f = forward, z = undo last action, +/= = mark as important, – = mark as not important, etc. And these are just a bagful of shortcuts from the ocean of shortcuts available for each email provider.
Secret 13: Faster way to find attachments
If you have to find an attachment directly rather than looking up the whole thread of email conversations in your Gmail, enter the code “has:attachment” in your Gmail search box. And you will reach across to your desired attachment faster and directly.
Secret 14: Mail timer
This is a pretty neat tool if you want to be strict about the time you spend on emails. It’s an add-on for your Gmail browser, which will start a timer every time you work on your emails. The recurring pop-ups will work like alarms asking you to move on to the next task. Pretty handy, huh?
Secret 15: Using more than one inbox
If you’re into digital marketing, you may very well be handling more than just one email account to toggle between different types of hats you put on. So, you don’t have to keep using different browsers every time you have to access another inbox. And even incognito window would only allow one inbox. However, there is a much easier trick for that. Go to the settings menu in your Gmail inbox. And under the ‘Labs’ tab, go to the ‘Multiple Inboxes’ option. Select ‘Enable’ for this option. Once you ‘Save changes’, you will have the option to sign in into your different inbox. This is done through the use of labels. These labels are available under your Compose button. You can bucket different email inboxes by creating new labels each time. To avoid the hassle, you can set the maximum number of emails you want per inbox and then click ‘Save’ to get started.
I hope this helps you on saving your time spend on emails significantly. So, about time you took off the battle gear and ease into something more comfortable, while you work on your emails.
Got more tricks? Do share them by leaving a comment below.
Have fun emailing!