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Each year we spend 560 hours just managing work emails.

Email is a fantastic bonus if used properly, but many of us struggle under the sheer weight of incoming correspondence. In fact, 28% of our working week is spent responding to emails.

What if you could streamline the process, improve your email productivity, and get a few desperately needed hours back? Here are four things you can do to reclaim your inbox – and your valuable time.

Prioritise

It really is essential you spend a moment thinking about how to prioritise better and address the most important emails first.

Think about setting up folders for clients, research, things to read later, online shopping, etc. Then use email rules to send emails straight to folders and set alerts to remind you to check those folders for updates.

Finally, set out of office notifications to manage people’s expectations regarding reply times. This really helps improve email productivity as they won’t chase for a response if they know you’re out of the office.

Spend less time

I only open my inbox three times a day: first thing in the morning, just before or after lunch, and towards the end of the day. This means I’m not distracted from one client’s work by an email from another.

I also set a time limit for responding to emails. This is really helpful for email productivity as I am pretty sure I would review the wording over and over again until it’s perfect which would eat up too much time. If I can’t respond fully to an email in one go* I will say so up-front and send an initial bullet-point response.

*some people send such long, complicated emails!

Unsubscribe

Take a few minutes to get all the junk and unwanted email out of your inbox. This is essential to helping you prioritise emails and improve your email productivity.

Use the same rules you would if you were clearing your wardrobe or packing up to move house:

  • do I like it?
  • have I ever used it?
  • do want it?

You know you’re not really interested in emails you signed up for if you keep deleting them without reading them. Do yourself a favour. Save your delete digit and unsubscribe.

Use software

Ever tried scheduling a meeting over email? How about a meeting with several participants? Never again, huh?

I use Doodle to schedule all my meetings. I simply set my availability and invite the other parties to set theirs. They choose a time and date that’s convenient for them, and I avoid a complicated back and forth of emails.

Using the same tool, I can confirm the agreed meeting date to everyone involved simply by pressing a button or sending a link. I can even get the date in my calendar. Using a meeting scheduling tool will save you a lot of time.

So, there you have it: four steps to email productivity. There is, of course, a fifth step which is to ask AgersVA to manage some of your administration for you. Simply drop us a line or give us a call to find out how that works.

Loraine

Loraine

Loraine Davies is Director of Agers VA, a booming virtual assistant business specialising in events management, website content development, marketing, social media management, business administration, and everything HR! Find us at agersva.co.uk or contact Loraine at hello@agersva.co.uk, on Twitter @AVADirector or facebook.com/AgersVA.