Email management is vitally important to your small business. If you are ready to trash your laptop because your email is out of control, you want to avoid that, “OH NO!” gut wrenching feeling when your email has gotten way out of control, or to avoid your email from getting out of control then keep reading. For heaven’s sake, at Rhonda’s Virtual Office we do not want you to trash that laptop over something that is manageable.
What is email management?
Email management in short is a system you put into place to keep your inbox from overflowing with junk, no longer needed items, creating rules, using the proper tools, checking your email in a timely fashion. Putting a good email management system into place will you help you avoid feeling overwhelmed and get a handle on your businesses email.
Successful Email Management
We are no longer a pen and paper society. The generation of the typewriter is all but gone. Technology has moved into the digital era and it is imperative that you learn or hire a virtual assistant who can assist you in managing your email efficiently and effectively. Here are a few pointers to assist you in proper email management:
Get the Proper Tools
Getting the proper tools into place is the place to start. There are many options available for your email system from desktop email programs like MS Office Outlook or Windows Live Mail to online email programs like Google’s Gmail, Yahoo, or AOL. Each of the online programs I mentioned offer FREE online versions if your business does not require something more extensive.
Getting it organized is probably the hardest part. Really! You have to figure out how you want to implement your organization structure for your email. You can do this by creating folders, sub-folders, categories, colors, and creating rules, but once you have put this into place maintaining its structure is simple.
To help you not become absorbed in emails day in and day out it is best to set times to read and respond to emails. Everyone has a different schedule that works well for them and meets their needs. A good starting off point is to check your email twice daily. Spend approximately 30 – 45 minutes each time doing this. Get a timer and set it so that when your time is up you will move on to that project you should be working on. Spend no more than 2 hours a day on email. Remember use that timer and don’t let your email control your time.
Proper Record Storage
If there is a document, image, contact information that you really need to keep then deal with it accordingly. Save the document in your document storage system, save that image in your image storage system, and put that contact information into your contact database or management system. Then deal with the email accordingly. Flag it for follow-up, categorize it, delete it or archive it. Be sure you have a proper record storage system in place to ensure that your documents, images, and contact information can be properly dealt with. Be sure to click here to learn more about proper record storage or backing up your data.
Do you really need to keep that email? If not delete it. It is that simple.
For the emails, you cannot delete because you really need to keep it for your records then archive it. Most if not all email, systems or programs have an archiving system. Archive it and move on. Get it out of your email inbox so you have nice clean inbox with no hassle and no clutter.
Vacation Email Management
What do I do when I am away on vacation? Vacations are wonderful, but it can be dreadful returning to an overload of emails that need to be dealt with before I can do any other work. Here’s a few simple suggestions to help you come back to a much cleaner inbox. Now I’m not saying you won’t have to catch up on emails, but these few tips will make it easier to deal with and keep it cleaner.
Be sure to set up vacation responders so when someone emails you they know that you won’t reply until such-n-such date. Of course, it is nice to alert them prior to leaving, but you are bound to forget to tell someone or may have a potential client trying to contact you that you did not expect. You do not want to lose that potential prospect so be sure to set up your vacation responder before leaving.
Temporarily Unsubscribe / File It Away For Later
Request a temporary stop in your subscriptions while you are away. If they cannot do that for you then you can unsubscribe, and then re-subscribe at a later date once you’ve returned. If this is not an option that you want to choose then you can create rules for those subscriptions so that they are all moved to particular folder while you are away. That way they will not be in your main inbox cluttering it up and making it difficult to see which emails you need to deal with right now.
Let Your Virtual Assistant Manage It
If you have a VA or a Virtual Assistant already in place then this would be a great person to start having them manage your email. Once they understand your systems it will be smooth sailing and when you get back your inbox will wreak less havoc on you and your business. To learn more about how a VA or virtual assistant can assist you with your email management click here.