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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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Last Updated on March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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