Time Management

by Di McLanachan

Email efficiency

Is the worst distraction of all your email inbox? Every time you hear that familiar ping that tells you an email has arrived, do you really need to stop what you’re doing to check it out? What if you only checked every 30 minutes? Or every hour?

Decide on an appropriate frequency and make it a new working habit. This one technique alone can save you a considerable amount of time in your working day, every day. After all, if you were in a meeting, that person would not get an instant response, so if you are really busy simply turn off the bells and popup boxes that warn of every incoming email. Even if you do not answer an email immediately, the warnings disrupt your train of thought.

Another simple time-saving habit is to reply to emails at a set time and for no more than a set period of time every day: for example, spend an hour on them from 11am. How you manage this will depend on the type of job you have.

Email time savers

A lot of people fail to use their email tools and facilities to their best time-saving advantage.

Inbox management

Add folders for different projects or areas to your email inbox – Sales, Customer Service, Orders and so on. When you have actioned an email, and you want to keep it, drag it into the folder. In effect, file it. You should only have in your inbox the emails that still need to be actioned. This will save a lot of time finding old emails that you are sure you have received and that must be in here somewhere! It also means your inbox becomes a mini to-do list. Manage your inbox so it becomes manageable.

Use templates

If you find yourself sending out the same basic email many times, set up a template. Create each new email from the template; make the few necessary changes, and you are done.

Spam

Install good anti-spam software, if your company server does not already do this for you. The good ones will have some system to grade your emails into three types. ‘Good’ emails will be left in the inbox. ‘Don’t know’ emails will be marked in some way so you can review them and teach the software which ones are spam. Spam will be deleted.

Backup

Many people are zealous about backing up their documents and working files, but forget about their emails. Your email files are full of valuable information and data that often does not exist elsewhere. It is worth backing them up.