Top 5 Email Productivity Tips for the SMB Employee

We are inundated with emails from our customers, employers, vendors and co-workers–and that is just at work. If your work and home email are combined, add to that advertisers, family and friends and those lovely spammers. It is easy to lose your track of time going through, reading and responding to emails, and time is a commodity that should not be wasted. Here are the top 5 tips to help you reduce your time spent on email.

1. Filter, Filter, Filter

Filter out the emails that are wasting your time. Spam, marketing and cartoons from co-workers can waste valuable work time, and sometimes contain nasty viruses. Learn the features of your email provider and train the filter to remove emails that you do not want to read and delete them. Additionally, unsubscribe from any emails you don’t read, and tell your friends to stop sending you every cartoon they see.

2. File It Away

Use your email program’s filing system to put emails in relevant files so that you can get your hands on them later. Emails containing valuable instructions, directions to an appointment or other useful information can be stored until you need it without spending much time on it now.  Additionally, a lot of email programs – like GMail and Outlook, have rules that you can setup – which can automatically file away emails once you receive them.

3. Check Email Once per Hour

Schedule your email time for periodic checks, and then turn off your alert on your phone and computer. This way the email is not distracting you from concentrating on meatier issues when you can’t afford distractions. If you are worried about missing emergencies, create an auto-reply that says to call you directly in case of an emergency.

4. Write Emails in Bullet-Point Format

To make your own emails more succinct, learn to write them in bullet point. You will find it easier to construct and write, and your recipients will be able to read it more efficiently. White space and bullet points are easier to read on a screen, and doubly so on smaller smartphone and tablet screens.  It’s easy to spend too much time writing a long winded email, that the person may not even read all of the way through.  Bullet points can really help you organize your thoughts, and make it easier to digest.

5. Set Up an Email Signature

While it only takes about 30 seconds to include your name, company name, and contact information at the end of each email, if you have 100 or more emails per day, you can save a lot of time and mistakes by setting up your signature in your email program. Have the program use the signature on every email and gain that time back for less trivial pursuits.  Additionally, the signature is a great way to market your business – add a line highlighting a new product you are selling, link to the company site and social media profiles – your marketing team will be glad you did!