Email is vital to a business’s communication strategy. Whether you operate as business to consumer (B2C) or business to business (B2B), sending and replying to emails forms an integral part of your business operations. But, emails can get us swamped. According to a recent Digital Statistics report, 33% of South Africans’ weekly online time is spent on checking email. While this figure doesn’t come close to the time spent on social media, or using Google, it’s still a significant amount of time we spend tending to mails.

If you’re opening up your email far more often than you want to, get distracted by hundreds of irrelevant messages, or just don’t get the time to get through all the mails coming your way (important and not important), it’s time to think about how to use your business email correspondence more efficiently.

Take the time to organise

While it might take a bit of time to set up, setting up folders for your emails to be sorted into helps tremendously towards future efficiency. You can then set up keywords to match these folders, and as soon as emails come through they’ll be automatically sorted for you.

You can label these folders however you wish to make sorting through your inbox a breeze. A few examples include sorting by:

  • Client name
  • High to low priority
  • Task name
  • Project name

Unsubscribe 

If you open your email up every morning, only to find a host of emails you just know you aren’t going to read, it’s time to unsubscribe. Perhaps you entered a competition a while back, and now you’re part of a mailing list you never wanted to be a part of in the first place. It’s a manual task, but take the time to unsubscribe now, to avoid you wasting time by deleting promotional emails every day or week.

Some of the mails you receive may come from business or startup related newsletters that you intentionally signed up to. In this case, filter them into a relevant folder so that you can get to them in your free time. This way they won’t clog up your important inbox every morning.

Create email templates

Find yourself sending the same emails out on a day-to-day basis? Or know your replies off by heart? Templatizing your messages can help save a significant amount of time throughout your day.  You can then copy and paste them straight into your relevant mail, and personalise the recipient’s name and maybe tweak the tone or a few words here and there.

Save them somewhere handy and you’ll be sending emails off in half the time.

Use the 80/20 rule

Waking up to a full inbox looks daunting, but remember that not all emails are weighted equally. The 80/20 rule is a bit old school, but still relevant today. The idea is to focus on 20% of your emails, your high priority emails, as they’re more likely to make a bigger impact on the success of your business. The other 80% can be looked at later on in the day or week, and don’t require an immediate response.

By focusing on your top priority mails first, you waste less time on emails that aren’t likely to give your business the higher returns.

Modify notifications

Those little pop ups on the side of your screen may seem insignificant, but they can pull you away from important tasks that need your undivided attention. Email notifications can distract you just as you’re knee deep in a presentation, important meeting or strategy session, and make it difficult to re-focus.

This doesn’t mean you need to turn notifications off entirely (unless you really want to), but rather filter your notifications to only pop up when an important name, task or project are mentioned.

With a little bit of upfront admin, you can optimise your inbox so that you don’t end up wasting your precious time sifting through, sorting and deleting unwanted emails that aren’t your highest priority.