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7 Tips to Streamline Your Email Communication

7 Tips to Streamline Your Email Communication

These days, it’s almost impossible to not use email to communicate at work, as few other mediums of communication offer the same speed, efficiency, dependability, and cost-effectiveness.

But it’s also easy to get bogged down in emails. When your inbox is constantly full, it’s easier to lose track of important messages or respond too slowly enough to pressing issues. What if you could send fewer emails, get fewer emails, but still accomplish the same amount of work?

Here are a few tips to do just that by streamlining your email communication with your customers and co-workers.

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1. Get Newsletters and Promotional Emails Under Control

Most people receive mass emails of some sort on a daily basis, whether it’s daily Groupon deals, an industry newsletter, or notifications from sites like Facebook. These emails often make it hard to get to your “real” messages. So what can you do to get it under control?

  • Regularly unsubscribe. Make a point of taking the extra few seconds to remove yourself from a list that you’re no longer interested in.
  • Avoid getting them in the first place. When filling out any form, make sure that you uncheck any box that automatically signs you up for email communications from the company.
  • Turn off notifications. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn send you brief messages to let you know when someone leaves a comment or sends a message. Instead, just check the sites regularly.
  • If you’re using Gmail, you can switch your Inbox type to the “Default” setting, which relegates Social, Promotions, Updates, and Forums to separate tabs.
  • Sign up for UnRoll.me. The free service “rolls up” your subscriptions into one single email daily, so you won’t miss anything but they also won’t clutter your inbox.

2. Make More Out of Transactional Emails

Transactional emails are email messages that are automatically sent to users when they do things like confirm an email address, change a password, or complete an online payment for merchandise. According to data compiled by Easy-STMP, the “opening rate” (which is exactly what it sounds like) is over 100% for these transactional messages.

That means that these emails are usually opened not just once, but repeatedly. This makes transactional email a valuable asset to you and to your customer by providing a way to better streamline your email communication.

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Make these emails work harder for you. If you provide answers to common questions within the email or point them in the direction of resources they might need, they’ll be less likely to reach out to you with questions, cutting down on the numbers of emails you receive. You can also use them as an opportunity to cross-sell other items.

3. Make a Single Email Accomplish More

If you find yourself sending multiple emails to one person during a single day, stop. Usually this happens because you’re asking questions as issues arise.

Instead start a draft early in the day, and only send it once you have multiple questions or concerns. Use bullet points to ensure that the other individual can easily see and address each one.

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4. Suggest Dates, Times, and Locations for Meetings and Calls

It can often take dozens of emails to coordinate a single appointment. Cut down on the number of messages going back and forth by suggesting specific options for dates, times, and even locations right from the start. In some cases, you can cut the whole communication down to just two or three messages this way.

5. Handle Issues Now

Don’t read an email and then respond to it later. It’s much more likely to go completely ignored, and you’ll actually waste more time in the long run since you’ll read the same message multiple times. Instead, set aside a time of day to go through absolutely every email and achieve the coveted “inbox zero”.

Think that sounds impossible? Okay, sometimes you simply can’t respond to an email when you get it. Sometimes you just don’t have the required information yet. That’s where Boomerang comes in. This tool is available for Gmail and Outlook, and it allows you to archive an email and then have it reappear in your inbox later at a time you schedule, ideally when you can actually address it. It’s also a powerful way to remind yourself to follow up on emails you send.

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6. Text or Call Instead

Before hitting send, ask yourself: is email really the most effective means of communication for this message? Sometimes a quick text is much more efficient. Or maybe a call would be necessary anyway, so you might as well bit the bullet. Consider picking up your phone and typing or dialing instead.

7. Start a Newsletter

Whether you’re just a peon at a large company, a freelancer, or a business owner, there are often times when you have to send the same message to multiple people. Consider mass emailing them instead. You can set up a free newsletter quickly through a program like MailChimp.

But be careful how you use it. If you don’t have something that needs to be said, consider holding off, because it could actually increase the number of emails you have to deal with instead.

Utilize these seven tips, and you’ll see your email communication improve, in terms of both efficiency and efficacy, and your co-workers and customers will very likely notice and appreciate your attention to detail and more effective communication.

Featured photo credit: Kelly Schott via flickr.com

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5 Powerful Ideas on How to Be Productive at Work

5 Powerful Ideas on How to Be Productive at Work

Not being able to stay productive at work is a problem that everyone runs into at some point; no matter how much you like your job, there are certain factors that prevent you from staying at maximum proficiency throughout the whole day.

A lack of productive focus at work can lead to extra stress on yourself, missed deadlines, passed opportunities, raise denial, demotion and even termination.

So, if you are someone who has trouble with your productivity, here are five effective tips on how to be productive at work:

1. Take breaks

First and foremost, it’s important for you to take regular breaks. Trying to work throughout the whole day will tire your brain, which will then cause you to doze off and think about something else.

If you keep working your brain, it will fill up and get jumbled with information—sort of like a computer hard drive. Taking a break would be like resetting your computer so that it can start afresh, or de-fragmenting the data so that all the information is in order.

This is a great thing because it allows you to solve problems you were unable to solve previously, by seeing it differently; if you are able to organize your thoughts properly, you will be able to take in new information more easily.

There have even been studies about methods of saving time and staying proficient, and taking breaks is one of the leading factors.

According to Christine Hohlbaum, the author of The Power of Slow: 101 Ways to Save Time in Our 24/7 World, eating lunch away from your work area every day will greatly increase your productivity. Eating in your work area will give you the illusion that you are working, but whether you like it or not, your brain will begin to wander and think of something else and then you will be working tirelessly with no progress.

It’s important to take breaks before and during work too: if you come to work in a rush because you woke up late, your mind will not be mentally prepared for the day ahead, and you will spend the first 10 to 15 minutes trying to get organized and composed before you can actually start working.

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Instead, you should try to wake up 20 minutes earlier than the time it would take you to “just get” to work. Take that time to stare off into space and not worry about anything.

If you do this, your brain will be empty and ready for all the challenges it has coming for the next few hours.

If your employer only allows a set amount of breaks during the workday, that doesn’t mean you can’t just get up and walk around for a quick break every now and then.

Even if it’s only 5 minutes, it will refresh your brain and you will gain renewed energy to do your job.

Learn more about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

2. Pace yourself and balance your workload

One problem that most people run into is that they underestimate the amount of work they have to do, and end up doing 50% of the work in the last 20% of the time they have to do it. This is due to an issue of balancing one’s workload.

When you receive a project, or are doing a job you normally do, take some time to really plan out your work schedule.

Consider how much time it took you to do this last time; determine how you can break the project into smaller parts and which can only be accomplished on certain days, and whether anything might come up that could interfere with your plan.

All of these questions are important for starting on a project, and when answered, they will help you stay productive throughout each day.

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For example, if you needed to design a project to map out the amount of aid offered in various regions after Hurricane Sandy, you can break it up as follows:

You will need to know what organizations are offering help to begin with, how much aid those organizations gave or plan to give, which regions were hit by Sandy, and which regions suffered the greatest losses.

You start this project on a Thursday and know you have until Tuesday to gather this information.

In order to stay productive, you need to plan out your work week—now you know you can find out which organizations are involved in helping the Hurricane Sandy Victims any day since that information is online, but gathering information on the organizations may require you to call them.

Since phone calls can only be done during week days, you have to plan on gathering all of that information before the weekend comes.

That is just one example of a situation in which pre-planning your project will help you stay productive; had you researched the affected regions first, you would not have received the info on the organizations until the weekend, and may have missed your chance to call them.

That, in turn, would have wasted time you could have spent working on this project to finish it.

Knowing what you need to do, when you can do it, and how long it will take you, is important in balancing your workload and being more productive and efficient.

3. Put your work first

This is an issue that usually occurs with young people who are new to the workforce: they’re often tempted with offers to go out at midday, and then come back lost in thought and unfocused on their work-related tasks.

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While it is important to take breaks, your breaks should consist of you clearing your mind, not loading it up with other less important information—like sports.

However, that is not the only situation where you need to worry about putting your work first before all else.

In a work environment, the senior employees will oftentimes push some of their menial tasks onto the newer employees. If you fall into that category, you need to know that their work is not your work, so if you have tasks that need to be done, you need to do it first.

If you are a new employee, you must learn to say no to other people even when it means you may not be in their good graces anymore. You can help others out once your work is done, but you are paid to do your own work, not anyone else’s.

4. Don’t open your browser unless you need them

In this day and age, everyone is constantly monitoring their social network. This is a major pain point for companies, which is why many don’t allow employees to access their social networks on company workstations.

When you are at work, disconnect the internet from your phone and keep your browsers closed so you’re not tempted to log onto your social media accounts or browse any sites that are not work-related.

If you keep your browsers closed and phone tucked away, only to be used in an emergency, you will find yourself being a more productive employee right away. 

5. Try to be happy and optimistic

If you always have a negative outlook on life, you will be more distracted and less motivated to get work done, so it’s important for you to start your day off right.

This can be done by having a good breakfast or by taking time in the morning to watch one of your favorite TV shows before work.

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If you are happy, you will find yourself able to work much more productively as your mind won’t wander into worrying about something else.

Also, if you stay optimistic and keep telling yourself that you can do whatever you set your mind to, the tasks will seem much less daunting and will go by much more quickly.

Take a look at more effective ways to stay positive at work:

15 Ways To Stay Positive At Work

Happiness and optimism are the keys to being a productive and happy employee.

All in all, heed the five tips above and you will find yourself being one of the most productive people at your company.

While you do not need to master them all, each and every one of them will help you become a better and more efficient employee.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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