How I Spend Less Time In My Email Box

September 4, 2015 by Tony Schwartz

Hey Tony,how-to-email-better

I feel too much of my time is spent emailing. It seems that I can spend hours per day just going back-and-forth emailing brides. My brides say they appreciate the quick response, but it gets so tiresome for me because the problem is, it’s hard to get other business-related tasks and projects done during the daylight hours. Do you have any tips on how to be more efficient with email?

Sincerely,

Buried In Email

Hey Buried,

Tell me about it. Email – as awesome of a form of communication as it is – is such a time suck.
Look, being a small business owner is A LOT OF WORK! In addition to serving our clients, we have to maintain our websites, get our finances in QuickBooks up-to-date, post to a billion social media websites, write an occasional blog entry, return voicemails, schedule meetings, attend networking events, create new marketing materials, stop what we are doing to answer a phone call about how XYZ Agency can get us on the front page of Google, and so much more! And then – without warning or precedent – Chesney will start barking because he wants some attention. Oh, wait, that’s just my English bulldog…

The point is: you only have so much time during the day. And you aren’t controlling your inbox, it’s controlling you.

Up until a while ago, I was like you. I wanted to respond within minutes to every email that popped up in my inbox. I felt it conveyed I was on top of things. The problem is: brides aren’t hiring you because you are quick to respond. It’s a nice customer service trait, but it’s clearly consuming you. Ever gone through a long back-and-forth email exchange with a bride only for her to reply that you are beyond her budget? You can chalk it up as “Educating The Bride”, but I’ll call it what it is: wasting time.

If a bride is THAT interested in your services and wants to book NOW, she’ll pick up the phone. But since email is the new phone call, a response within 24 hours should be just fine. Remember, you have a life, too.

Now, here are some other things to do that will help you spend less time with your email inbox:

Use IMAP
If you are still using POP3 for email sending and delivery – and you check your email on more than one device – switch to IMAP immediately! In simple terms, IMAP syncs everything you do in your inbox across all devices. For example, if I delete an email on my phone, it deletes it from my laptop’s mail program as well. IMAP is awesome.

Turn Off Push Notifications
Seriously, set your phone to fetch for email when you open the app. Don’t let that badge alert tempt you!

Create Two Email Accounts
This seems counterproductive, but hear me out. For each of my businesses, I have an inquiry email account and a personal email account. Because I had an extra MacBook lying around – as a DJ, I buy a new MacBook every two years – I set one up with the inquires accounts, and my main work laptop has my personal accounts. If you don’t have a second laptop, you can easily setup all of the email accounts into your Mail program.

The point is: it works as a great filter. The inquiries accounts are only checked when I’m in the office (more on that in a second!) and I can check for important client or vendor emails whenever is convenient for me.

Schedule Batch Email Times
The first thing I like to do at my office is pour a cup of coffee. The second is to check all my email accounts – with the general inquiry accounts as the main priority – which my daily schedule allow for up to a half-hour for reading and responses. Once that half-hour is up, it’s on to the next task for the day.

I won’t check my email again until the afternoon, and that half-hour block is devoted to my personal email accounts only. Yes, I only respond to new inquiries in the morning. This prevents back-and-forth exchanges and it allows her time to do her “homework” on me. Most brides do very little research before they click the contact link. Give her the resources – review sites, blog entries, social media profiles – and then allow her time to review them!

Which leads to…

Create Email Templates
One day, while responding to an A/V rental inquiry, I realized I was typing the same email I had typed hundreds of times before. Then I began to wonder: how many times throughout the client process am I writing essentially the same email? The answer was: A LOT! So I spent the better half of a day writing up email templates for all of of my companies: from the initial email response to the email explaining not only where to leave a review, but what to write.

THIS HAS SAVED ME A TON OF TIME! And the best part: if done right, it doesn’t come across like a canned form letter. 😉

Use Rules
Since I treat my inbox as a to-do list, I use the rules feature of my mail program to automatically deliver emails such as receipts and payment confirmations to their respective file folder. For example, Amazon receipts are automatically transferred to the “Amazon Receipts” folder. It’s super efficient and quick cuts through the clutter.

Hope this helps!

Your email crusader,
-T


This post was original published on March 13, 2015 at www.TonySchwartzBlog.com

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Tony Schwartz Tony Schwartz (36 Posts)

Tony Schwartz is an award-winning MC & DJ, a business entrepreneur, stock market investor, a dog lover, a daily blogger, and a die-hard Red Sox & Seahawks Fan.


Filed Under: Business, Personal Development