Keeping on top of your massively full inbox when you have little time to do so isn't just about organising everything, but your approach to your responses. Here's a look at responding kindly yet efficiently to save you time.
If you're staring at a (figurative) mountain of email right now, chances are you've tried to conquer it in the past only to be overwhelmed by the sheer volume again and again. You may have tried many methods of organisation, only to end up with a bunch of unread messages in different mailboxes. This is probably because you're not approaching the responses efficiently, and you probably haven't done that because you're concerned about the quality of the messages. If this is you, it's time for some new habits.
Business and ideas blog The 99 Percent suggests the following strategies:
- Be concise.
- Communicate "action steps" first, not last.
- Number your questions.
- Make the way forward clear.
- Include deadlines.
- Use "FYI" for emails that have no actionable information.
- Tell them that you'll get to it later.
- Don't send "Thanks!" emails.
- Never send an angry or contentious email.
- Never "reply all" (unless you absolutely must).
The idea is to keep your responses short and to the point, which is nothing new, but also to create kind of a mental template so you get in the habit of writing efficient, concise, and polite emails with ease. These suggestions also will help you ignore email you don't have to reply to and keep you from creating more email for yourself.
Got any other great suggestions for creating an efficient reply strategy? Let's hear 'em in the comments.