Email is an evergreen channel for communication, but it can eat up a lot of your time if not appropriately managed.
Emails have been around for decades. In fact, even when newer communication tools emerged, emails remained irreplaceable. Love it or hate it, this evergreen type of communication remains a must-do in any business setting.
Being organized and staying up-to-date with everything is very tiresome. This is especially the case if you're managing a large office with dozens of employees and emails come from every direction.
Given the way in which emails power much of modern work, proper email management strategies can have a massive impact on your company’s productivity. If your team spends too much of their work day shuffling through emails, they’ll slack on other important work tasks and struggle to get more meaningful work done.
By considering a more innovative approach and employing productivity tracking tools and other methods, which we'll discuss in this article, you can up your email game.
1. Set up Automated Out-of-office Replies
Modern workplaces run on a tight schedule where time is seemingly always in short supply. As the popular saying goes: time is money. This means deft handling of your inbox is a big part of prudent time management.
It’s not uncommon for colleagues, clients, and other stakeholders to shoot emails left and right until they get a response, which can be irritating and get you off course. So, instead of trying to catch up with your clients' demands 24/7, create a schedule and only respond to emails within a specific timeframe.
To avoid consecutive emails asking for a response, set up automated out-of-office replies. These emails notify your clients that you’re currently unavailable and that you check your inbox only at certain times.
You don’t have to do this manually, of course - use email automation software. You only need to draft a response, set the hours, and the tool will do the heavy lifting for you.
On top of that, look into the best productivity apps for PC that track the time you spend on emails every day. Most productivity software providers offer this option as a part of their service. This will give you a precise overview of how you’re spending your time, allowing you to allocate it better and maximize your productivity.
2. Give Yourself an Email Allowance
This tip is closely related to what we discussed above -- only working on emails within a specific time frame each day. Getting caught up in replying to emails is easy and often goes unnoticed. That is until you look at the clock and realize half of the workday has passed.
You can use an hourly productivity tracker or simply keep an eye on the clock when you open your inbox and track how much you're dedicating to this activity. Decide on an email allowance that will give you enough time to tackle essential email communication while not eating away at the rest of your workday. A simple starting point is once in the morning, once at lunchtime, and once at the end of the day.
The same goes for your employees. Advise them not to waste too much time on emails and set aside specific time frames when they'll focus on email to avoid constant distraction throughout the day. Using an employee productivity tracker will help them keep track of how much time they've spent so that they can move on to other tasks.
3. Use Aliases
Aliases are burner email accounts that act as forwarding addresses. For example, if your email is firstname.lastname@example.org, you can create an alias that masks your actual email address, but redirects emails to it..
Email aliases can be used for opt-in emails or similar sign ups where a risk of being put on a mailing list or having your data sold exists. Your data will remain hidden, and your inbox won't be overburdened with a bunch of marketing emails or spam.
It’s important to point out that aliases don’t mean managing multiple personal inboxes or email accounts. You still maintain a single inbox and any email sent to a linked alias will end up there. Aliases can be destroyed at any time, meaning any emails sent to them will no longer reach your email.
If you’re still concerned that you’ll end up wasting more time than you’d like on email, use tools and apps to help with time management. The best PC productivity apps will let you track the time spent on your regular and alias emails. If you notice that this practice saves you time, keep the habit and enjoy the benefits.
4. Optimize Your Emails
Keeping your emails short and clear will save you a lot of time. Typing out wasteful greetings and over-explaining things is unproductive, squanders your brainpower, and impacts your business operations.
Aim to keep your emails no more than three sentences long. Be clear and concise and try to explain all concerns in one go. Use simple and understandable language and ask direct and precise questions. Once you build this habit, emails become more efficient for you to send and for your recipients to receive.
5. Improve Your Subject Lines
You only need to glance at your inbox to understand that your recipients’ inboxes are likely already overflowing with unread and unreplied emails.
Writing better subject lines is a great way to ensure that the recipient reads your email. So, don't forget to include relevant, eye-catching subjects in all of your emails. If you use lacklustre or generic subject lines, you increase the likelihood that your email will either end up in spam or go unanswered.
The subject line should include a quick rundown of the key points and a recognizable keyword in correlation with the topic of the email. That way, the recipient knows what it's about and is drawn to read the email. However, a great and distinctive subject line is also suitable for email archiving. By using specific thematic keywords, you'll be able to find the email quickly if you ever need to look at it again.
6. Don’t Get Bitten by the Inbox Zero Bug
Inbox zero is a productivity tracking method that aims to keep your inbox empty at all times. While it seems like a lovely idea, in reality, it's very idealistic, takes incredible discipline, and can be very time-consuming. Emails come and go at multiple points throughout the day. If you were to follow this rule strictly, you could end up obsessing about the state of your inbox to the point that it becomes counterproductive.
Remember how we talked about the importance of setting aside specific hours for email management? The inbox zero concept can completely contradict that and put you at risk of not having enough time to focus on other tasks.
7. Apply the One-Touch Rule
The one-touch rule goes as follows: You have to immediately react if you open an email. This reaction doesn't necessarily have to be a response, though. If the email warrants a reply, then reply. If it's not urgent nor important, either delete it or archive it.
The whole purpose of this rule is to avoid having previously opened emails sitting in your inbox. Why? Because if you forget what they contained, you're likely to reopen them, wasting even more time and energy. Using an employee productivity tracker tool will help you set aside some time to deal with emails that warrant your attention, leaving you with a clean and tidy inbox.
Up Your Email Game Today
Improved email productivity lets you focus only on essential tasks, saving you countless hours of opening, replying to, and sorting emails. In addition, reconsidering your approach to inbox management boosts your and your employees' workflow, creating a more pleasant environment for everyone.
As discussed above, to shorten this cycle, you can employ productivity apps for PC that will reveal how much time you and your team spend on email. By implementing such tools in your work routine, you can become productive.
As a final note, with these tools, you will have an answer to the question of how to track employee productivity when it comes to email. So, use them as soon as possible to maximize your team's productivity!