269 Billion Emails
Ugh! Email. The minute you’ve cleaned up your inbox and finally feel like you’ve got a handle on it, another message comes in demanding your time and attention. It’s impossible for most of us to focus with all that email sitting there. We wonder if there is a big order, a client canceling or another important message. But 90% of it is not urgent, and we dig through all that email instead of completing our priority items first.
Don’t get me wrong; email can be a very useful tool. But, it can also take over your day and keep you from the most important job you have, generating revenue. — making sales or helping your team make them.
Email isn’t going away so you need to take charge of your inbox. According to The Radicati Group, a market research firm, 269 billion emails are sent per day. To get control of my inbox, I use these tips that I’m about to share with you.
Get Control of Your Inbox
1. Send Less
One of the best ways to get less email is to send less email! Simple. Yes, and it works. Think about each email you send and ask yourself some questions:
- Do you really need to send it?
- Who needs to receive it?
- Could you serve yourself and others better by picking up the phone, skyping or could this be a quick IM (Instant Message) conversation?
Stop letting email dictate the order of completing your tasks. Learn to prioritize. I see that most people run their day by their email. They look at their inbox and start with the email that is on top, often the newest email. This is not necessarily the most important email. It’s much better to look at the older email first—the ones that have been waiting longer. DO go through your email and prioritize the tasks. DON’T do them as they appear. You may have some hours of cleanup to get to a point where this system will work.
Unfortunately, we have trained our customers and prospects to expect an instant response. They think something is wrong if they don’t receive a reply within minutes. No salesperson should be sitting at their desk replying to emails unless that is the only way they get orders. If you are out selling, it will be a couple of hours before you can check your email. Re-train your clients and set reasonable expectations for returning emails. No instant replies. If they need something urgently, tell them the best alternative way to reach you or someone at your office who can tend to their concern immediately.
What To Do With All That Email
Do it, delete it or delegate it. Hey, it sounds simple, but it works! The first thing you need to do is block time each day to work on email. I do it about three times a day. Each morning I review my day and then check email quickly to see if there is anything that will change my priorities. I check right before or right after lunch and I check at the end of my day. Of course, sometimes I have so much email I have to spend several hours after work to get it organized. Here’s how I do it.
If it is something that can be done in 5 minutes or less, I do it.
If I have done it, then most of the time I can delete it. Many of the items I can scan quickly and see that they are junk, a newsletter or something I don’t need. So, deleting is the best action.
Three types of delegation fall into this category.
- Delegate it to my own calendar to do at a later date. If I do that, I also file it in the appropriate folder and drag it on to my calendar, so it is easy to find when I need it.
- Delegate it to another person with specific instructions about what needs to be done by when. If I do that, I use a method that reminds me to follow up to be sure it was completed.
- Delegate it to a folder or a file for safekeeping. Sometimes no action is required, but it is something important that I may need access to again, like a signed agreement from a client. I put it in the appropriate email folder or save the attachment to the appropriate file.
Your inbox is empty by the end of the day, or nearly empty. Emails fly in at any time so you will have a few that pop in at the end of the day that will wait until morning. You’ll feel more at ease because you have done your priority items and you know what is lurking in your email. Instead of your email ruling you, you have rules for your email. Don’t forget to consider sending less as a way to receive less, it works. Freeing up your time to sell is a priority. I know that these methods work because I use them and I teach my clients to use them, and it makes a significant difference.
One Last Thing
Turn off all of the email notifications. Don’t let them float on the bottom of your screen. Don’t allow any noises to be made when a new email arrives. Same goes for your phone. Turn email notifications off.