According to a recent eMarketer blog post, Adobe research in July 2015 found that U.S. business executives spend 3.2 hours daily checking work email on weekdays. They spend almost as much time checking personal email: an average of 3.1 hours each day. As a small business owner, it’s likely that you also spend a great deal of time communicating by email with customers, colleagues, vendors, and project partners. While email is critical to your business, your inbox can easily become a constant distraction preventing you from getting other tasks accomplished if you’re not managing it well.
Here are some ways to take control of your email so it doesn’t thwart your productivity:
- Schedule time to tend to your email inbox. Reserve blocks of time every day for checking and responding to emails. Knowing you have dedicated time to deal with your email, you’ll be less likely to interrupt your other work to sneak a peek at your messages.
- Mark important emails as unread if you don’t have time to respond to them in the moment. That will make them easier to find when you finally do have an opportunity to give them attention.
- Use your email platform’s filtering capabilities to automatically send email messages from certain senders or about certain topics to specific folders. It will keep your inbox less cluttered and save you time by taking away the manual step of filing your messages.
- Don’t subscribe to email newsletters unless you’re really interested in reading them. And assess whether those you’re already subscribed to are providing value or if you find yourself deleting them without even opening them. If the latter, consider unsubscribing so they don’t add to the noise in your email inbox.
- Make sure your email communications are clear and to the point. Pay attention to writing in plain language and structuring your messages logically so they make sense to recipients. Also, be direct about what action (if any) you need from the recipients. Clarity from the start will help avoid a lot of wasted time spent sending emails back and forth to explain what you meant.
Managing your email effectively will help you stay more organized and productive overall. While it may take some time and practice to get your inbox fully under control—and keep it that way—your efforts will pay off in the long run.
For additional expert insight and guidance to help you run your small business more efficiently, reach out to Portland Maine SCORE to connect with a mentor.