This quarter, Key Notes On Travel is examining time management with productivity expert Neen James. In her first of two webinars, Neen addressed issues relating to email and answered some of our most pressing Outlook questions. "Email can be the biggest time suck there is but we all need email to do our work; it's the way we communicate. Now more than ever, we have to be super efficient with email," she says.
If you struggle to keep on top of your inbox, you will benefit from the following tips.
Question: How often should I check my inbox so that replying to email doesn’t consume my entire day?
Answer: Four times a day
Schedule four daily appointments with yourself to check email. Use the timer on your phone and reply to as many emails as you can in the time allotted. Neen suggests first thing in the morning, mid-morning (about half an hour before going for lunch), mid-afternoon and before you leave the office.
Question: How do I get my email recipients to reply faster?
Neen notes, "Email is a request from someone else for your time to achieve their goals."
If you want quick replies, you need to create the reputation for sending easy-to-reply-to emails. This means you need to consider the way in which you write your emails.
Best practices for writing better emails:
- Keep your emails incredibly short. If you have to scroll, it is too long; pick up the phone instead.
- Use bullet points
- Write action-oriented subject lines. Put the goal of the message in your subject line and craft it so the recipient will want to open the email.
- Always use a greeting
- Where multiple people are CC'ed on the email, use first names next to action items so they can quickly scan without missing what's required of them.
- Separate emails for separate ideas. You will get a quicker reply if the recipient doesn't need to address multiple topics.
Neen's golden rule:
Always reply with your signature
"Never make someone work hard to find you," says Neen. "In every reply, in every outgoing email, make sure it has your details and contact information so it's really easy to do business with you."
Steal this genius email strategy
Neen tells Key Notes on Travel: "I made best friends with out-of-office. If you send me an email you will notice I change my out-of-office message every day. If [you've] sent me a note, you will get a bounce-back of some description that tells you what I'm doing that day. The reason for that is it helps manage the expectations of people sending me emails."
Tips for writing out-of-office messages:
- Include an approximate time you will return a recipient's email.
- Keep it light or fun, let your message show your personality. If you're travelling abroad, let clients know. Use it as an opportunity to invite them to follow you on your social media accounts or promote a partner.
- Need a quiet afternoon? Schedule your out-of-office message to run for just a few hours.
Catch Neen's second time management webinar
Did you miss Neen James' KNOT time management series?
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