July 14, 2016

Respond, sort and move on: Six ways to save time emailing

by Lindsey A. Boisvin, JayRay Intern

Many employees say email is an effective way to reach them, yet their flooded email boxes can mean your message gets crowded out. How can you help your organization tame the flood?

According to the Huffington Post, people spend nearly three hours every day responding to work emails. Even outside of work hours, nearly 87 percent of people opened their inbox to check business emails.

We’d like to give you and your employees some time back. Here are six shortcuts to a better inbox that your team can adopt today.

1. Close the inbox
Stop lurking! We all know the saying—a watched pot never boils. Waiting for an email is like waiting for the bubbles to start churning. Reassure employees it’s OK to close down their inboxes. Instead, check back three to four times per day during peak emailing hours.

2. Respond or organize
Don’t overthink it. Delaying a response to an email shoves it in the back of your mind, leaving it to fester and break a workflow. Save time by encouraging employees to answer emails immediately, or categorize messages in Outlook. Teach team members to only respond if it is absolutely necessary: Skip the smiley faces and the cordial “You’re welcome!”

3. Edit for scannability
Wonder why information-heavy company messages never receive responses? The emails may lack scannability. Emails should be like PowerPoint presentations: To the point. Save your employees time by using bullets or lists to pose questions, identify tasks or call out key concepts.

4. Make the subject matter
Avoid ambiguity in a subject line. Do you have a question? Need to schedule a meeting? Lead with the task in the subject line, just like you would when pitching to a reporter. “Web page copy for review” is more powerful than “Web page.” Make it known immediately that a response is necessary.

5. Set up Outlook rules
Sometimes employees need their inboxes to hover in the background. But not all emails require pop-up windows, alerts or sounds. In some cases, emails should be sorted into custom folders for clients or HARO notifications. Show employees how to save time when searching through old emails by setting up Outlook rules to customize topics worthy of an alert.

6. Pick up the phone
Although we all love cozying up with a good book, when an email turns into a novel, we collectively groan. Instead of typing out a first draft, walk out from behind your desk to connect with coworkers. Use different communication methods—a phone, in-person conversation or Skype session—to explain a long-winded concept.

How do you manage your email? Tweet us at @JayRayAdsPR.