5 Simple Email Management Tips
Written by Renée Safrata - email@example.com, April 06th, 2011
Does your email inbox make you smile?
For most people, the answer is a definite and resounding NO. For many people, email management is a stressful, brow-furrowing experience.
It doesn’t have to be. With 5 simple tips, you and your team can work effectively and not frown when you open your email inbox.
1. The Subject Line
As this is the first thing people see when they receive an email from you, let them know what the email is about.
Is it regarding a particular client? An upcoming meeting? An issue in the office?
Instead of “The next meeting for our new client”, try
“KLEENEX: Feb 10th meeting.”
If you deal with a number of different clients like I do, putting the name of the client first in the subject line is very helpful. Right away, I know who it’s about.
2. Set up rules in your email program
- Create folders with client names, meeting dates, proposals, etc. In the settings section of your email program, set up rules that state when a meeting or a proposal or a client comes in, it goes directly to their respective folders. The computer then does all the sorting for you.
- Alternately, you can colour-code your emails. One of my team members knows that the yellow highlighted emails are people she’s waiting to hear back from, while the green highlighted ones are upcoming training and the purple highlighted emails are ones she needs to take action on.
Find a system that works best for you and then stick to it.
3. Talk to your team about TO, CC and BCC
Who’s taking an action/owns a particular task, who’s supporting an action and who’s simply being informed on an action. This is where the TO, CC and BCC field’s are quite handy.
When I receive an email where my name is in the TO field, I know right away that it’s something that I’m responsible for dealing with or taking action on.
However, if I see my name in the CC field, I know that someone else is taking action on that task, but that I am to support that action if needed.
Finally, if my name is listed in the BCC field, I know that I’m simply being kept in the loop and no action is required on my part.
4. This step is a repeat of step 2 – Set up More Rules
Just as you created rules for emails to go to a certain folder when they come in, so you can set up rules for emails where your name is in the TO box to go to a folder you create called TAKE ACTION.
Subsequently, where your name appears in the CC field, you can direct emails to a SUPPORT ACTION folder and for emails where you’re in the BCC field, you can redirect emails to your FYI ONLY folder.
Of course, what you name your folders is up to you, but remember to name them in a manner where you’ll take action appropriately.
5. Talk to your team about PRIORITY, MODERATE PRIORITY and LOW PRIORITY.
What do each of these terms mean to you and your team? How are you supposed to act/respond when you receive an email that’s marked LOW PRIORITY?
What about going one step further?
Instead of “KLEENEX: New Client Addition” (Marked as High Priority), try
“URGENT: KLEENEX: New Client Addition”
Within my team, if I send a message with the word URGENT in the subject line, before the client name, the recipient knows that it’s something that needs to be taken care of in the next few hours.
Defining what Priority/Urgent, Normal/Non Urgent and Low Priority/FYI means to your team will determine how quickly a turnaround you’ll receive on that email. Remember that your URGENT might be someone else’s NON URGENT, so be clear on how you’re defining each level.
If you follow these five simple steps, I promise you that your email inbox will become managable. Will it make you smile? Perhaps not, but you will no longer dread checking your email.
What tips and tricks do you use to make your email inbox bearable?