5 February 2013

Simple Email Tips for Time Efficiency

Most people understand, at least intellectually, that a clear desk equals an uncluttered mind. However, a surprising number don’t realise that the same thing applies to our e-mail Inbox. I recently spotted 1519 messages in a client’s Inbox – no wonder she felt overwhelmed! (And her office paralleled the Inbox – there wasn’t a clear centimetre of space anywhere.)

The next week I was back with Helen’s organisation. She couldn’t wait to show me her office and computer. She’d implemented some of the ideas listed below, and we could see the top of her desk, the colour of the chair covers, and a lot less in her Inbox.

Robyn,” she said, her eyes sparkling with joy, “it’s as if a mountain has gone off my back. I feel more relaxed and up-to-date than I have for years!”

Some you already have great email strategies, but maybe those around you don’t/ (Feel free to do them a favour – run them off a copy of this article). One thing I consistently see in the business world is highly educated professional people who don’t have any real understanding of commonsense paper and information techniques. If they were taught in schools and universities as a pre-requisite for further education, it would save many people a great deal of stress in their working lives.

How to run your e-mail:

  • Treat your e-mail system like a filing cabinet. Set up folders for every major topic of interest, and sub-folders under key headings. To create, highlight the heading under which you want the new folder placed. Then right-click, New Folder, and give a name.
  • Never leave read mail in your Inbox for more than a few days. Treat it as you should handle paper on your desk – if it’s worth keeping move it into a named folder by a click/hold/drag action or even better, learn to use Rules to automatically file anything from regular correspondents.
  • Develop a low tolerance for a mailbox where you can’t see blank space at the bottom of the page. In most Inboxes that gives you about 12-15 messages to look at, although the size of your Mailbox can be altered by clicking on the line in the middle of the page and dragging the line up or down to suit your needs.
  • Be prepared to shift mail of long-term interest to folders unread, and schedule in reading time. One could be entitled‘Newsletters to read’, and another might be ‘Web research to do’. Saves you getting distracted, (a common challenge once we start scrolling) and you can do your ‘further education’ at a less busy time.
  • Something you mustn’t forget and you’re scared you’ll loose sight of it if shifted to an ‘Action Pending’ file? There are several options, depending on whether you’re visual or not.
    a. If you feel happy to get it out of the Inbox as long as you can find it again when you need it, use your contact management system or diary of whatever sort (as long as you’re using them regularly) to put an alert on the date you want to do the action and where you’ve filed the message. The electronic systems are the most reliable – they annoy the heck out of you until you do something with them!
    b. If you’re seriously visual and panic at the thought of shifting mail out of sight before it’s acted on, leave it in your Inbox but keep it minimal. If you’ve developed the sense of discomfort we talked about in Point 3, this will help to drive you to action, and reduce procrastination.
    c. Flag it for Follow Up. If you click on the flag icon on the top bar of the Inbox it brings all the ‘Follow Up’ items together.
  • Be ruthless about deleting e-mails you don’t need. Remember – they’re usually only an alternative to a quick phone message.
  • Most programmes, unless your company has installed a default, don’t automatically empty the Delete folder. Many people think an item dragged into Delete is gone. It’s not. You almost always have to instruct it to Trash or Empty. With modern equipment a right-click gives you that option.
  • Store ‘Sent’ mail as well as ‘Received’ items in your folders, putting ‘like with like’ as you would file paper in a filing cabinet.
  • If it is important to keep a full record of correspondence, save your ‘Reply’ rather than the incoming message. Then both parts of the story are together. The quickest way is to develop the habit of going to the ‘Sent’ box as soon as you’ve dispatched an important mail, and dragging it immediately into the relevant folder.
  • Every month empty your Sent box for as far back as you’re comfortable to delete. Click, hold, and drag any really important messages and delete the rest. I keep only two months worth of messages. Most of it will be rubbish.

If you’d like information on etiquette, commonsense suggestions, and other good ideas on email handling  click here to read that article now.

Are your days too short, workload too large and work-life balance a pipe dream?

Take a look at these Books, E-books, CDs/Teleseminars, Online Courses/Webinars and Tools. They provide practical, effective and easy to implement ways for you to free up your time, improve your productivity and reduce stress from overload.

Webmasters/Ezine Publishers: Would you like to use this article?
You are invited to use any of our articles in your publication or website. The only requirements are that we are included on your mailing list, and that you include the following, after each article you use...

Robyn Pearce CSP (Certified Speaking Professional) is the Time Queen. She mastered her own time challenges and now helps people around the world overcome theirs. She can show you how to transform your time challenges into high productivity and the life balance you desire.

Get your free report 'How To Master Time In Only 90 Seconds' and ongoing time tips at gettingagrip.com.

© All Rights Reserved to Robyn Pearce, GettingAGrip.com, R.D.4, Pukekohe, South Auckland 2679, New Zealand Ph. +64 275 846 348

If you'd like Robyn to write something specific for your industry, please email us with your request.

Get Your Free
'How To Master Time'


Plus your FREE Time Resources Pack (Valued at $227)


Client Testimonials

Catalyst For Efficiency ImprovementsIt was great to introduce our two job-share receptionists to Robyn’s Getting a Grip on The Paper War text.  It became a catalyst for us to improve our administration proce..." Marie Collins, Business Manager, The NZ Institute of Plastic & Cosmetic Surgery

Enhanced Efficiency Thank you for all the tips and words of advice you and your team have sent through.I have been constantly reading it and it does wonders to my line of work and also being a wife and mot..." Anaseini Liku, Communication & Media Coordinator, Ministry of Education, Cook Islands

Clear Directions Enhance Use Of TimeI have just finished reading 'Getting a Grip on Time' and 'Getting a Grip on the Paper War'.  Particularly your book on 'Time' got me back on track, and during the day I catc..." Ingrid Geerlings, Owner, www.houseofmilk.com

Leadership Book Helps To find the Real Me‘I’ve just been reading ‘Getting a grip on Leadership’.  It is very good and has had an impact on me.  I realised I’d lost my way a bit re who I am ..." Heather Millar, Manager, Professional Practice, Central North Island Kindergarten Association, New Zealand

Additional $120,000 Billed After Time Management CourseI have personally known Robyn Pearce for around 16 years. From time to time my firm has contracted Robyn on a project basis to work with our professional staff as well as partners in the fi..." John Hackett, Partner, A J Park, New Zealand

The Librarian Who Got Her Life Back!The kick-start that I needed was delivered by a velvet glove, but make no mistake the iron hand within the glove ensured that the message was received and understood. If you are going to spend some..." Heather Jenks, Associate University Librarian (Research and Learning Services), University of Canterbury

Increasing Personal Confidence And Job ManagementHaving worked already very successfully with our NZ Team, Robyn's support of the Australian Team over a 12-month period was fundamental to helping us cope with increased day to day workload - espec..." Julia Braun, General Manager - Marketing, Beiersdorf Australia

A Great Empathy And Affinity With PeopleI have used Robyn as an Executive Coach for key Senior Staff for a number of years now and couldn't recommend her more highly. I've found as people step up in the organisation they often struggle t..." Merilyn Havler, Then General Manager, Beiersdorf New Zealand

An Increase of 30% In Gross Turnover Due To Better SystemsWhen we reviewed the progress made as a result of your concepts, a staggering number of them had become an integral part of our day to day business, collectively making a huge difference to our eff..." Wayne & Lisa Hughes, Occupational Therapy Helping Children, NSW, Australia

Motivational And Thought Provoking SessionI'd like to highlight the benefits felt both by the staff members attending your sessions, and the motivational flow-on effects experienced throughout the Hotel.In the developmental sta..." Human Resources Manager, Wentworth Hotel (part of the Rydges chain)

Successful Paper Management Seminar Thank you for your interesting and indeed challenging speech. I could see all the people who've ..." Australian Institute of Credit Managers, Sydney Branch

Personalised Seminar For Long-term Results On behalf of the team at Strategic Lifestyle Management and our client Lend Lease I would..." SLM Conference and Incentive Manager, for client Lend Lease

Excellent Skilful Presenter "Thank you for the practical and informative Time Management seminar you recently gave to our senior m..." HR Manager, ANA Hotel, Sydney

Improve Your Organisation And Productivity The response to the program was extremely positive, with an average rating of 4.4 out of ..." Noel Cook, GM, Outdoor Network, Australia

Organisational Skills Improve To Lift Productivity Your time management seminars are one of the best things we've ever done. Weeks l..." Centrelink, Dubbo, New South Wales

Productivity Increased 50% Now several months later and my productivity has increased between 30% and 50%. I'm seeing more and bette..." Senior financial planner, IPAC, Australia

Timesaving Techniques Learned A wonderful surprise to learn how much I had improved since the first programme with you nine months a..." National Sales Manager, Personal Insurance, GIO Australia

Control Gained In Managing Time Feedback from the staff was very positive... all felt they had gained a great deal of control and di..." MD, C.Y. O'Connor College of TAFE, Northam, WA

Immediate Action For Change A lot of great new ideas and some very good new tools that I shall start implementing immediately. Group Services Trainer, Adecco

Increased Efficiency Saves 20-25 Minutes A Day "Many practical hints which helped me reorganise my office, to operate efficiently." ..." Senior Partner, Baldwins (Patent Attorneys)

Invaluable Resources In Time Management Books I would like to take this opportunity to commend you on the flexibility of your approach, and..." Human Resources Manager, Professional Services Review, Canberra

Self Management Crucial In Time Management You presented a most informative and challenging training session. Your ability to gain q..." Human Resources Manager, Independent Pricing & Regulatory Tribunal of NSW

'Time Management Guru'! Once again you combine an enthusiastic presentation style with useful tips and techniques. Succinct and fun ..." Manager - Training & Development, Real Estate Institute of NSW

Beneficial Time Management Ideas Your presentation was brilliant, and your thoughts on how to make time management beneficial to eve..." Barbara McCarthy, President, Chatswood Chamber of Commerce, Sydney

Informative And Energising Speech We could not have chosen better. Your contribution was just what we wanted and needed, and I was t..." Raewyn James, Tamaki Teachers' Conference

Positive Feedback For Speech Robyn, you gave a fantastic speech, and I am still having positive feedback about your talk to this day..." Sales and Marketing Co-ordinator, Swiss Grand Hotel, Bondi, and co-ordinator of Eastern Suburbs Women's Breakfast

Work Life Balance Put Into Practice I know everyone who attended was fascinated by all your planning tips and I know many have put t..." Solo Home Business Network, Sydney

IT Company Gains Insight Into Effective Time Management We were very impressed... everyone gained considerable insight to effective ..." MD, IT software company, Auckland

Professional Approach Reinforces Time Management Principles Following a number of very positive reference checks we invited Robyn Pe..." Godfrey Pembroke National Conference, Hobart, Tasmania

Staff Queue For Time Management Tips! "Thank you! I'm sure you could tell from everyone's enthusiasm that they enjoyed your presenta..." Programme Director, Pioneer SWAP

Specific Personalised Advice Benefits Group Robyn gave much more than the professional information imparted in this kind of session...." Principal Heritage Officer, Heritage Council NSW

They're 'screaming for more'! Thanks for your wonderful presentation. I've had a lot of positive feedback from our staff, and they c..." GM's assistant, Austereo, Australia

L.J. Hooker Predicts Great Success In Using Their Time Your down-to-earth common sense certainly hit home to a lot of people, and the feedba..." Lyn McDermott, Ass. Director, Marketing and Communication, L.J. Hooker Ltd

5 Stars For Time Management Course Robyn, in light of this morning's session (and comments about short emails!) I could leave it the..." Wilf Marley, Principal, Marley Loft Systems (Accountants)

Simple Practical Action Steps For Work Life Balance We've had great feedback since your last session with the NZ Institute of Charte..." Denise Bovaird, Past President, New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants

Improved Focus And Concentration After Time Management Course Since your time management course our managers have found that they ca..." John Moore, Then-HR Manager, International Cricket Council, Dubai

Jam-packed Personalised Seminar Very Effective   Robyn spoke to four of my Academy groups in the space of 11 days. I wa..." Barrie Barrett, Chairman, Academy for Chief Executives, United Kingdom

Awesome says Law Clerk, Bell Gully I just thought I'd spend a few minutes in the Proactive/Value-adding quadrant and let you know ho..." Law Clerk, Bell Gully, New Zealand

Excellent 'Management' Course, As Well As 'Time Management' I would like to extend a huge thank you for making your valuable time av..." David Greenslade, Managing Director, Strategi, New Zealand

We've Regained 30% Of The Time We Used to Lose! Since we worked with Robyn 5 months ago our team of 12 underwriters and support staf..." Senior Underwriter, QBE Insurance, New Zealand

Fantastic Course - Team Feedback Extremely Positive! Thanks very much for the Time Management programme you have conducted over the ..." Gareth McCulloch, National Sales Manager, Southern Hospitality Limited

View More