Last week Alex from ContactMonkey and I put on a webinar to help those suffering from email overload. Let’s be honest, we’ve all been there, and establishing specific habits and using the best tools out there, really can make a difference.
If you struggle with email, I encourage you to watch the presentation below and our participants’ 3 main takeaways were:
Discover new tools / Ways to collaborate
Master your inbox – less time, more effective
Get rid of distractions and get more done
And if you’d prefer to read, or check out the slides, here they are as well. Did we miss anything? 😉
4 Golden Rules
1) Forget the saying “check my email”. PROCESS it.
- A Study by the Danwood Group, found that it takes an average of 1.5 minutes to read and recover from an email. If an employee is alerted every 5 minutes when new mail arrives in their inbox they can expect up to 96 interruptions in a regular 8-hour workday.
- Determine specific times to process your email. Try for 3-5 times a day.
- How to PROCESS = 4 Ds and never spend more than 2 minutes on an email (and if you have to, DEFER for later)
Delete it >>> “shift 3”… or # (gmail shortcut)
Do it (in less than 2 minutes or defer for later)
Delegate it to another colleague
Defer it >>> star an email (shortcut “s”)… and archive (shorcut “e”) to get it out of the inbox, OR, boomerang later, sanebox reminder for a later time. Mailbox on iOs has this option as well.
FOCUS Solely on these 4 actions and avoid leaving your inbox (going off to a website which takes you to another website, which makes you think of something else, which means you’ve spent 20 minutes elsewhere without really processing your email)
- Avoid email on mobile unless you have to as it’s not the best processing platform. If you have to, definitely check out Mailbox.
- Get rid of sound and vibration email notification on your mobile device. Another study from Nokia showed that users check their smartphones an average of 150 times during a waking day of 16 hours. That can be a huge distraction as well, and make sure it’s not your email notifications!
2) Easier to process 75 emails than 150
- Focus on what’s important now- our inboxes have been bombarded with Newsletters, Twitter and Facebook updates and you can sometimes miss your most important emails. Processing unimportant emails has become a full-time job, SOOOOO
- To reduce the noise, bulk-process your bacn (set up auto-filters for less important email) with Unrollme or Sanebox and even gmail is doing it now with it’s social/promotions tabs. Here’s a great infographic on spam 2.0 which is BACN.
- Send fewer emails— use other platforms mentioned below in golden rule 4
- Process your email on a daily basis, and regularly so it doesn’t build up.
3) Why email should often be lower on your “to-do” list
50% of our power-users (and webinar attendees) said in a survey that they check their email more than 20x/day. This is clearly a huge factor contributing to the stress level of professionals as mentioned here on INC. Sitting in the inbox as opposed to processing the inbox is probably one of the greatest productivity killers out there. Test it out for yourself! And, decrease the stress that you feel throughout the day as you don’t see it piling up. Deal with it, and then move on.
Avoid processing email first thing in the AM— use your fresh AM energy on more creative tasks as mentioned in this great post on INC.
Challenge yourself—> Open and close email at most 3-4-5-10 times a day. If you have to work on outbound needs, keep your email open by inbox closed with PAUSE from boomerang.
Worried about missing something important? Awayfind notifies you when you receive an important email via SMS or a native app, so you don’t have to worry about checking your email. For example, if a person you have scheduled a meeting with today decides to blow you off, you’ll get a SMS. ContactMonkey also alerts you with a system-wide notification when your most important SENT email has been opened or a link was clicked. Never miss something really important with these tools
4) Avoid internal email
- Great write-up on how the angel list team does so, and we fall pretty much in the same boat at WriteThat.name.
- Applications that are more appropriate for internal communications/tasks/collaboration: (yammer, trello/tracker/asana, skype/gchat, face-to-face)
- Avoid CC/BCC and instead share informational-oriented emails on the social enterprise platform (Yammer). Ferrari’s even looking at limiting the number of emails they allow their employees to send internally for just this reason.
10 Quick but MUST-HAVE inbox tips
1) Use templates for emails you send often / gmail / outlook
2) Shortcuts are your friend (as mentioned here on the blog)
3) Undo Send / gmail / did you just forget to attach that proposal to your email again? forgot to get clarification again? UNDO IT!
4) Rapportive (social profiles for everyone you’re emailing)
5) Follow-up reminders as not everyone will reply to your email (Sanebox Reminder and Boomerang are pure genius for this and I’ve mentioned both here on the blog for follow-ups and general productivity: 7 simple ways to get to inbox zero post)
6) Contact Monkey Get insight on your SENT Mail — following email exchanges, following up with contacts, sync your email automatically with your crm like salesforce.com, use and track templates with salesforce.com.
7) Improve your email signature and automate your address book with WriteThat.name.
8) The art of brevity. Write shorter emails so you get shorter responses. Try to limit most emails to 5 sentences… Fred Wilson keeps it to less than 10 words for more than 50% of his emails! http://blog.shuttlecloud.com/gmail-meter-power-user-fred-wilson/
9) Write a Specific and Strong Subject
Nearly 40% of email is opened on mobile devices today and this means that your subjects should fit on one line of a mobile screen and MUST motivate your recipient to open you email. Getting your email opened is half the battle. 3-5 words max and use this chart from marketing profs to use great keywords.
10) Have only one, compelling Call-to-Action or next step in an email (Alex)
Your recipient’s time is precious like yours. This is especially true when prospecting. You must present a concise and compelling case that motivates be taking the time to write you back. And make sure to only have one so your recipients next steps are clear.
What would you add as a golden rule or important inbox tip?