Do you have days where it seems that all you are doing is reading, filing, responding or writing emails? I will be the first to tell you that my eye goes straight to the bottom right of my screen when my “new mail” ding hits my ears. But, I have decided to win the email war! I will no longer spend my entire day constantly toggling between what I am working on and Outlook — and you don’t have to either.
Here are some tips for winning the email war and spending less time with Outlook every day…
- Unsubscribe. If you receive an email newsletter that you do not read then unsubscribe from it. Each newsletter should have (most likely at the bottom) an easy way to stop receiving.
- Set up rules. Maybe you are not ready to unsubscribe, you just don’t have time to read it when it comes in. Set up a rule that sends emails from certain senders or with certain subject lines to a specified “Read Later” folder. Microsoft provides step-by-step instructions for setting that up in Outlook on their website.
- Schedule email time. Block out three (morning, afternoon and late afternoon) 30-45 minute appointments each day to handle your inbox. This will allow you dedicated time to read, respond, write and file your emails. If the message is that important the person would have called. If the “new email” pop-up causes a distraction it can be turned off.
- Respond to emails with 24 hours. During your email appointment, if it is something you can respond to within a minute then do it right then. If not, set a task or reminder to handle it by the end of the day. Outlook allows you to set tasks and reminders so you don’t forget to follow up. An email can be filed once the task and reminder has been set so you can get it out of your inbox.
- Use contact groups. If you always find yourself sending emails to the same group of people then create a contact group. This will save you time and allow you to quickly add all the recipients to an email. They can be edited to add and remove members easily.
- Quick Steps. Outlook 2010 has a new feature that allows you to quickly apply multiple actions to an email. With one click, Quick Steps can forward an email to a group or person with a preset subject line or file emails to a frequently used folder. The rules can be simple or complex, but all create a time saver. Step-by-step instructions can be found on the Microsoft website.
There are many ways to use Outlook to control the time you spend on email and maximize the time that you do, these tips are only a few. How do you control your email and keep it from taking over your day?