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15 Tips to Manage Email Effectively

Columnist Marilyn Vos Savant once wrote “email, instant messaging and cell phones give us fabulous communication ability, but because we live and work in our own little worlds, that communication is totally disorganized.

How many of us have felt overwhelmed by our email inbox at times? It’s no wonder – in 2013, we received over 100 billion daily emails (and, believe it or not, not all of them were relevant to our needs.

[Tweet “Consumer and business email accounts totaled nearly 3.9 billion accounts last year”]

, according to technology market research firm The Radicati Group. There is a lot of traffic streaming to our inboxes. So what steps can we take to manage our email messages effectively? We’ve got 15 tips that will help you maintain your sanity.

 

TIP #1 – Use labels, folders & tabs

Tip 1

You’re first step is to create a system for organizing the numerous messages you receive. Programs such as Gmail allow users to label messages in order to store them by an activity, interest, sender or other relevant tag. You can also create folders to organize work-related and personal messages. Google also created a tab system with Primary, Social, Promotions, Updates and Forums categories so messages can be routed for a more organized viewing experience.

It’s important to establish an organized system that allows you to categorize messages. This way, you can prioritize which messages you’ll view first and which ones can wait until “down time”.

 

TIP #2 – Filter your messages

Most email programs enable users to set rules, or filters, which automatically file messages in the folders you set up in tip #1. For example, Gmail users can use Labels to filter messages by sender, topic, organization or other personally useful terms, such as “Read Later”. You can apply a label while viewing your inbox or while reading the message. Labels only apply to existing messages and must be selected by the user.

To manage the inflow of messages, you can set up a filter that will automatically route messages that fit certain criteria, such as from a specific sender, to a folder that can be opened later. This feature makes it easier to keep your general inbox clear and enables users to quickly find filtered messages.

 

 

TIP #3 – Archive “no response” messages

Many of us receive confirmation notices on orders, registrations and other activities. These messages should be routed to an Archive folder for safe keeping. Although many people tend to delete these messages, it’s a good idea to hold them in your archives for a while. Once a few months have passed (or whatever your chosen timeline), you should view the Archive folder contents and remove unnecessary messages.

 

 

TIP #4 – Give it a gold star

Gmail and other programs allow users to attach a star to messages. This designation highlights a message or messages as important among those within your inbox. You may want to use stars as a reminder to return to the message at a later time.

You can also select a message as “important” by attaching a colored tab to your message. This tells Gmail that future messages in a specific conversation should be highlighted among the other messages. Once messages have been labeled with stars or colored tabs, you can filter your inbox view to show only those messages, allowing you to focus on timely and relevant messages.

 

 

TIP #5 – Disable desktop notifications

While it may be helpful to be immediately notified of an incoming message, most emails you receive don’t likely require instant attention. Unless you are “on the hook” for a lightning-fast response, keep the notifications setting off. These alerts can distract even the most disciplined worker.

Alternatively, you can set reminders in your task management or scheduling program to notify you when it’s time to check the inbox. In this way, you will be notified on your schedule and not when every email is received.

 

TIP #6 – Deploy the Task List

Tip 6

Those who use Gmail will be familiar with the Task List. This can be a handy tool to organize which messages require follow up and remind you of certain activities. The Task List feature allows you to enter a date and notes related to an email message. Tasks can be moved up or down in priority, sorted by due date, and printed to take with you to meetings.

 

 

TIP #7 – Enable auto-archiving

Gmail and other systems allow you to automatically archive reply messages you’ve sent. By turning on the “send and archive” feature in your email settings, you can immediately designate threads to your Archive folder when you send a reply. This helps keep your inbox fresh – no need to hold on to a thread as a reminder of a previous conversation!

Keep in mind, however, that it is good practice to review your archive folder occasionally to make sure you have not missed a key message. (This also applies to your Spam folder.)

 

 

TIP #8 – Deploy third-party tools to re-deliver messages

There are apps and plugins that allow you to delay message delivery for an email you want to send at just the right time. These tools allow you to manage conversations via email in a way that fits your daily schedule while remaining active in the thread. [Tweet “Collabspot or Boomerang allow you to draft a message and schedule a future delivery date”]. You can also return a previously viewed message to your inbox when you need to revisit a thread.

 

 

TIP #9 – Minimize newsletter clutter

While it’s great to be informed through newsletters, blog posts, updates and other ongoing communications, you can easily become distracted if you open subscriber messages throughout your day. One effective email management tactic is to re-route those messages to a folder you can return to at your leisure. [Tweet “Tools such as Unroll.me are great at pulling out subscriptions and storing them in a specific folder”]. As a bonus, you can easily unsubscribe to those newsletters you find that are no longer useful.

 

 

TIP #10 – Optimize your email relationships

One way to help build relationships via email is to add a tool like Rapportive that embeds details about your contacts within your Gmail account. You can view Twitter handles, LinkedIn bios, websites, locations and other information all through your email program. This can help when you’re drafting personalized messages, and also helps to organize contacts and messages that have been exchanged.

 

 

 

TIP #11 – Auto-prioritization

Tip 11

Let’s face it: most of us use productivity apps to help streamline our day. These tools prioritize tasks. [Tweet “You can also apply prioritization to your inbox using Gmail’s Priority Inbox”] or apps such as Accompli and SaneBox. These apps review your email behavior to stage messages according to priority. If you have business associates you regularly email, messages received from those senders will be routed to the top of your inbox.

 

 

TIP #12 – Create clear, full messages

One of the reasons that email activity can take up to one-third of our daily workday is that many times email messages are incomplete or misunderstood. You can reduce the number of bounce-back responses, like “what time should we meet?” by including as much detail within your message as possible. For example, indicating “our meeting at 9:00 am on September 25 in conference room B” versus “our meeting next Thursday” will eliminate confusion on the recipient’s part and lessen the likelihood of a return message.

When you draft an email message, think like the recipient. Does this message contain everything he will need in order to act upon it?

 

 

TIP #13 – Reduce, reuse & recycle

You can apply the same principle of protecting the environment to protecting your email sanity. First, when you open your mailbox, immediately discard any messages that won’t have relevance during the next several days. Reduce the number of potentially distracting messages. Second, create templates for often-repeated messaging. Keep the subject line, message body or signature for future messages. Finally, repurpose previous messages for delivery to new recipients. You probably have some good content that can be used for different purposes.

 

 

TIP #14 – Be smart with the subject line

Tip 14

 

Being an effective email communicator can shrink your inbox. The subject line is an important element to managing email communications. Many times, email recipients simply scan a subject line then determine whether to open the message or not. This can lead to problems. To be more effective at getting your messages seen, be as specific as possible about the intent and content of the message within the subject line.

Sometimes you can include your entire message in the subject line. If so, put “EOM” at the end of the line to indicate the end of the message. Your recipients will thank you for saving them the need to open the email.

To lower the number of needless responses to your messages, tell them they don’t need to reply. For instance, use “NNTR” (no need to respond) as a way of indicating that a recipient doesn’t need to respond to your message or “FYI” as a way to indicate the message is simply to inform her of something. This will reduce her inbox anxiety and ensure you won’t receive a needless reply.

 

TIP #15 – Control when you access email

Ultimately, email management boils down to time management. Access your inbox only when you have time to send and receive messages. Email messaging may be an important part of your day, but should not distract you from the task at hand. Set specific times throughout your day to manage email communications. If you’re faced with a high-priority, time-sensitive message, consider using a chat or phone call to address immediate needs rather than having a conversation through email. By using some of the features mentioned earlier, you have greater control over when and how you’ll respond.

 

Although email is still the dominant digital communication channel, we should not use email exclusively. And we can’t let our inbox overwhelm our work productivity. Take the time to implement some of these tips and you’ll find that email management is just like managing our other tasks. Use available tools and self-discipline to keep your email activity in line.

August Happiness Report

It’s time for August’s Happiness Report!

You are the Guide – not the Hero. One of the biggest mental shifts a business can make is realizing that it is not the hero in the story – the customer is.

– Matt Ragland (How Backcountry creates an Exceptional Customer Service Experience)

 

We learned something very important last August: the measurement of great customer service comes from being a great Guide – not a great Hero. We are not here to save the day – we are here to advise and show the best way to others.

 

What we worked on last August

Image 1

Our August stats show that we still have so many things to improve on to be great guides. On the other hand, we’ve done many improvements with the way we guide our customers on how to use Collabspot.

  1. New Updates

Our Development team have been really amazing with making Collabspot as user-friendly as possible. Check out our release notes to see what they’ve done to make Collabspot better than ever.

  1. Bug Fixes
  2. Improved Interface

Example: We have a new template modal for Salesforce users.

  1. Offer more Demos

Currently, we offer more demos to help resolve a customer’s concern as soon as

  1. Hired another Customer Success Manager

Let’s welcome Jasper!

  1. Sugar 7 Documentation (Improved)

The good news is, our customers were happy with the improvements we’ve done! Here are some of their comments:

 

Very quick and good solution and attention from support staff. Thank you!

– John (Element.Se)

 

Jasper and his team members provide super service- spot on, fast and low key very cool.

– Robert (Traxtech.com)

 

I liked Anna’s crisp and concise answer, very easy to understand. Thank you, Anna!

– Patrick (Resmartlisting.com)

 

<3 Nori

– Blake (Callinize.com)

 

Our Target for September:

Image 2

  1. Improve our documentation process.
  2. Constantly update our Sugar 6, Sugar 7, and Salesforce documentation.
  3. Call leads within three minutes after installing Collabspot.
  4. Increase screenshare and demos via Google Hangout.

 

If you have any suggestions on how we can improve our service, just let us know. We’ll be happy to help out.

 

Cheers,

The Collabspot Support Team

Release notes (August 01 – 29 2014)

New Feature:

1.) Birthdate field issue – Users can now type the date manually into the field.

2.) Improved notification email sent to users when saving attachments fails – Notification email now includes the email subject when it is available and more clearly states which attachments failed.

 

Released August 6, 2014

( Salesforce version no. 2014.8.6.855 )

 

New Feature:

1.) Support for Multiple Currencies – User can now see all the currencies that they’ve set in Salesforce.

  • Users will now have the option to choose what currency he wants to use when creating an opportunity to a contact. (As long as those currencies are available in his salesforce instance.)

RN3

 

2.) AutoEnable Email Tracking option in Settings – By default, email tracking feature needs to be manually turned on every time a user sends an email.

  • When this feature is enabled, email tracking is enabled automatically. Users don’t have to worry about turning the email tracking on every time they send emails to customers.
  • When users no longer need to automatically track all outgoing emails, they still have the option to disable the feature in settings.

RN4

 

Released August 1, 2014

( Version no. 2014.8.1. )

Fixes:

– Fixed issues regarding ext

 

Released August 29, 2014

( Salesforce version no. 2014.8.29.958 )

Fixes:

1.) Fixed issue that asks users to re-activate Collabspot every time the Chrome browser restarts.

 

Mods:

2.) New Team Management – Can be accessed via Collabspot Portal

 

New Options from Collabspot Settings:

RN1

 

Released August 26, 2014

( Salesforce version no. 2014.8.26.1242 )

New Features:

1.)  Email Templates Modal – Instead of a Menu box, we now show the list of email templates in a window.

 

Now, Users who have a long list of email templates can:

a. Search for templates within the list

b. Has a larger view and template preview

RN2

2.) Email Reminders will now have equivalent tasks in Salesforce

Pending Reminders and Active Reminders will no longer be available to Salesforce users. All reminders will be under Active, Upcoming or Overdue Tasks.

 

Since Salesforce has its own reminders feature, Collabspot uses Salesforce’s reminders for email reminders so users will get notifications from Salesforce itself.

 

3.)  Users will now be able to use Collabspot without logging in to chrome

 

4.) Options toLogout to Salesforce and Collabspot Account is now available under Accounts in Collabspot Settings

R

 

Users now have the option to switch to a different salesforce account and switch to another Collabspot account

 

Released August 8, 2014

( Salesforce version no. 2014.8.8.643 )

 

Fixes:

– Fixed a bug in creating opportunities on the sidebar.

 

 

Released August 7, 2014

( SugarCRM 7 version no. 2014.8.7.643 )

 

New Feature:

1.) AutoEnable Email Tracking option in Settings – By default, email tracking feature needs to be manually turned on every time a user sends an email.

  • When this feature is enabled, email tracking is enabled automatically. Users don’t have to worry about turning the email tracking on every time they send emails to customers.
  • When users no longer need to automatically track all outgoing emails, they still have the option to disable the feature on the settings.

RN4

Bug Fixes:

– Fixed Issues with “Read-Only” fields in Sugar that are still editable on the sidebar.

 

Released August 6, 2014

( SugarCRM Version no. 2014.8.6.716 )

Fixed full name for SugarCRM6 and 7, Highrise and Salesforce due to Google’s Recent Update.