Easy Email Management for Busy Home Business Owners
6 Tips to Make Managing Email Easier
Email offers a great, affordable way to market your home business, stay in touch with clients and provide customer service; however, it can also be tedious and a waste time. Unless you hire a virtual assistant, you need to find a way to manage email that allows you to respond in a timely manner, and yet not spend all day answering it. Here are tips for managing your email.
1) Reduce the amount of email you receive.
There are several ways you can limit the amount of email showing up in you inbox.
The first is answer the most common questions you receive on your website with a FAQ page. On this page, you write the question and then answer it. Refer people to it on your contact page, suggesting that they check there first to see if their question is answered. By providing as much information as possible on your website, your visitors can get their answers without emailing you.
The second way to reduce the email you receive is to unsubscribe from lists you don't read. If you find you’re deleting or sorting newsletters and other business updates, but not reading them, it’s time to unsubscribe. If you want to stay up-to-date with a blog, a better option is to use a feed reader, which will capture and list all new posts without filling up your inbox.
2) Limit the number of e-mail accounts you have.
Some home business owners create multiple accounts, such as one for customer service and one for tech help, thinking it will help them sort and manage email. But multiple accounts only creates more work, unless you have a virtual assistant who's job is to man one or more of the email accounts.
Ultimately, you only need two accounts; one for personal and one for business.
3) Limit the number of times you check e-mail each day.
Checking e-mail seems like a benign activity, and yet it’s one of the biggest time wasters, right behind social media. Because email is fast and immediate, there’s an idea that you need to be on it all the time, but that’s not true. While you don’t want to leave your clients or customers hanging for too long, you don’t need to respond to email the moment it arrives. Instead, check email two or three times a day. When you check it, commit to dealing with everything in your inbox at that time.
4) Develop a system for dealing with and sorting email.
Most email programs allow you to create folders into which you can sort email. For example, you can create folders for “to-do,” “receipts,” “to-read,” etc. Every email that comes in is responded to and/or sorted appropriately. If you’re a visual person like me, you can use Google’s Gmail program to create multiple inboxes. When email comes into the main inbox, sort it to “to-do,” “to-reply,” “to-read,” “client info” inboxes. All these specialized inboxes appear in different sections on the Gmail page. Another advantage to Gmail is the ability to use labels, such as receipts, to tag email.
5) Delete, delete, delete.
If you get lots of unnecessary email, delete it asap. Consider using a web-based email to delete unwanted mail before downloading to your email program.If you use web-based email, scan, check and delete the junk first. This leaves only the items you need to respond to. Refer to #1 about reducing the email you receive if you find you're deleting the types of email or a lot of email from a single sender.
6) Empty your inbox.
This is much harder than you think. And once it’s empty, keeping it empty is equally as challenging. Initially, this task will be difficult because odds are you have a lot of email and it’s time consuming to go through each piece to sort or delete. One options is to use the search function to find email from places that contact you a lot. For example, if there is a newsletter you subscribe to, search the newsletter by name or email address.
Once you have the list of newsletter emails, you can deal with it in bulk by selecting it all and filing it away into your “to read” or “newsletter” folder. Or you can cheat by select all items in your inbox and putting it in a folder called “to be filed”. This empties your inbox without having to file each piece of email, and yet you haven’t lost the email either. Once your inbox is empty, commit to managing each email that arrives at the designated time you’ve scheduled to deal with it.