The fact that you're reading this tells me that you probably do some part of your marketing, sales or customer service via email and/or the internet. Email has become the standard way to contact most businesses these days, and you are no exception.
This is hardly surprising, as Microsoft's own figures claim that there are more than 360 million Hotmail accounts in existence today - and they are just one email provider!
What this means is that you probably have more emails coming in and going out than ever before, and that can be overwhelming.
Losing track of emails isn't just stress-inducing though, it can also damage your business. Especially if you mislaid an order or, even worse, a customer complaint!
So, you have to get out from that knotty tangle and get your email organised.
To help you do just that, this week's tip is from productivity Goddess, Alicia Cowan of Absolute PA. She's going to show you how to go from email chaos to email calm, so keep reading.
this week's guest tip: a virtual assistant's 11 steps to inbox heaven
from Absolute PA, Alicia Cowen
Finding it difficult to keep your emails in your inbox under control? Here are 11 of the best productivity tips for managing your emails to achieve inbox zero.
Is this how you feel?
1. Group all your email tasks together: reading, responding, filing, deleting. And, schedule time in your diary to tackle your inbox. Once or twice in the morning then again in the afternoon.
2. Action your emails immediately to keep your inbox at zero or as clear as possible. Even if it's filing the emails away in another folder to action later.
3. Deal with the most important messages first - prioritise these before moving on to the less important emails.
4. Unsubscribe to newsletters you don't read and report unsolicited emails as spam.
5. Set up automated rules to apply actions to specific emails when they hit your inbox. For instance, Client A emails are automatically filed into the Client A folder.
6. If you use social media to market your business, change your notification settings so you aren't swamped with alerts. Or set up a rule so all your LinkedIn/Twitter/Facebook notifications are redirected to separate folders for checking later.
7. Create folders or labels to file your emails relating to project, client, back office tasks (IT, accounts, admin etc) and file as you go.
8. Use flags, brought forward reminders and colour coding for emails - particularly important or time sensitive ones.
9. Create a custom signature that includes a sign off, your name and contact details. Your signature will automatically be included in each email - you won't have to insert it each time, and by including your contact information you will fend off any 'how do I contact you?' queries. Plus, it's a really good marketing tool!
10. If you have a smart phone, sync your emails to receive them on the move. Use dead time in supermarket queues and train journeys to deal with your inbox.
11. Spell check and re-read your emails before sending. Look for typos and missing information. Have you included attachments? Copied the relevant people in? If you need to re-send the message or follow up because you've forgotten something, you're wasting time so make sure you get it right the first time.
I hope you find these tips useful. If you have any ideas to add please do so using the comments section on Tamsin's blog.
Alicia Cowan is the Absolute PA and blogs regularly on productivity and organisation. She is a whizz with all things social media, and one of my own go-to team.
Member since: 27th July 2011
Marketing Mentor, speaker, trainer and published writer. Happy to be a business member of The Best Of as well as a personal member.