As an entrepreneur, you need to know how you can effectively manage your email processing task.
You probably already struggle to effectively manage your email accounts and processing your incoming and outgoing message through your email client of choice.
I already know that I spent a lot of time reading, sending, and processing of emails but, I never thought about how much time it is as the percentage on my overall working time. Yes, every day I work on email processing task. Sometimes once, but sometimes several times in a day. Whenever I look at the process of how I process my email, always find some possibility for improvements.
One day, I have decided to analyze my daily habits when it comes to email processing task. After one week, I collect the data related to the time I spend on email processing, and the results were really disappointing. More than 20% of my total working time was spent on my email processing task.
How Much Time Do We Spend on Email Processing Task?
Research by the McKinsey Global Institute published in July last year titled as “Social Economy” says that the average interaction worker spends an estimated 28 percent of the workweek managing email.
You can agree that it is too much time spending on email processing tasks.
When I look at my account of RescueTime, I can easily see that I spend 4 hours weekly on processing emails. That’s 10% of my overall weekly working time. It’s not too much, but still, I think that there can be a place for improvement.
Because of that, I start to implement some advice that we will talk later in this post and the results from my last week can be seen in the picture below. As you can see, I spend something over two hours weekly on processing emails.
So, here I will talk about what I have done and how you can achieve the same results.
1. Organize Your Email Inbox
Before several weeks, I was amazed when I pay attention that my email client of choice PostBox has over 15,000 emails. I already have different folders where I store different received emails, but my Inbox also has too many emails that earlier I was simply read them or marked as read, but without deleting them if they don’t need to be part of the Inbox.
Because of that sometimes when I want to find some of my emails as a reference I spend more time finding the information that I need. This was the alarm that I need to do something.
First, I start by deleting all emails that I think I will not need in the future. I delete all messages as different promotional materials and emails from a different subscription list that doesn’t contain important information for me for the future. Then, I recreate my folders for the archive purposes and finally, I assign a topic for the important emails I think will need to use them later. For example, in the PostBox email client, I use topics such a home, work, personal, software licenses, outgoing payments…
In such a way of organization of folders in my email client, I can easily find what I need when I need it.
2. Limit How Many Times Daily You Do Email Processing Task
The second thing I have implemented, and that was hardest for me was to keep it closed my email client all day except in the cases when I have scheduled email processing tasks.
The basic idea was that I can open email application and start with the processing of received emails several times in a day that will enable me 5 hours to work on other things without emails and still do not lose important things in my work.
In such a way, my time is better organized and the process will not allow distractions when I work on other important things.
3. When You Open It Immediately Take Action
Email processing task doesn’t mean email reading. One of my biggest mistakes from the past was that after I finish reading received emails that don’t need next actions from my side nor I need it as a reference for the future I don’t delete it.
Now, I use several steps:
1. Read – Response – Waiting List.
This type of activities comes when I read an email that needs my response and I expect to receive also the response from the sender after I sent my response. Because of that, this email will need to be placed in my waiting list in my to-do list manager.
2. Read – Make a Task – Add Topic – Archive.
This sequence of activities I am implementing always when the email will require some work from me, and I can’t do the work immediately. Because of that, I will need to read the email, make a task in my to-do management software, assign the topic, and archive email in the folder for to-do tasks.
3. Read – Response – Delete.
These activities I am implementing when I receive an email that requires my response after reading, but it will not need to wait for the response from the sender and I will not need the message for the future reference. So, This email messages will not be archived.
4. Read – Response – Add Topic – Archive.
This sequence of activities comes when I need to respond to the received email, but I will need it in the future. Because of that, I will need to add the topic and archive the email in the specific folder.
5. Read – Delete.
This is the case when I receive an email that I only need to read it and there is no need for my response, nor I need it as a reference. I will delete these emails immediately from my Inbox.
6. Read – Add Topic – Archive.
This is the last sequence of activities I use when I work on email processing tasks. These emails don’t require my response, but I think that they will use them in the future for reference purposes.
With this process, I can easily manage my email Inbox to be always clean and I will process everything.
4. Use To-Do Lists When You Work on Email Processing Task
As I mentioned above every time when I receive an email that will require some work from my side before the response, I make a task in my to-do list management software. In such a way, I can’t forget that I need to do something and send a response.
I use OmniFocus as my primary task management application and first two sequences of activities from above (Read – Response – Waiting List and Read – Make a Task – Add Topic – Archive) will always be a part of my task management application.
5. Automate Standard Email Responses
Many emails will need short standardized answers from your side. For example, many emails you receive will have an informative role for you. Here your answer will be a very standard answer for all such emails you receive in the future. Over 60% of my responses have such a standardized response, and always I need to type on my keyboard same response several times in a day. This is a time-consuming task for me.
Because of that, I spend one afternoon to analyze my responses and make several templates of answers that I can use in the future. With the TextExpander I will place all those answers in my email response immediately after I make several clicks on my keyboard.
In such a way, you can save your time when you work on processing email.
6. Always When You Can, Use Audio Responses
I find this strategy really worth for me. Most times I use audio responses instead of written responses. On my iPhone, I use an application called Say It Mail It. These email responses can drastically decrease the time you spend on email processing tasks.