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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 September 20, 2018

How to Be Happy at Work and Find Fulfillment in Your Career

How to Be Happy at Work and Find Fulfillment in Your Career

If you’re going to spend 1/3 of our life at work, you should enjoy it, right?

Trust me, I know that’s easier said than done. Difficult coworkers, less-than-desirable tasks, or even just being in the wrong position can all lead to a lack of enjoyment and fulfillment in your work.

But what if I told you it doesn’t have to be this way? Or better yet, if you struggle with all of the above (and then some), what if I told you that enjoying your work and finding fulfillment regardless of those obstacles is possible?

Don’t believe me? I don’t blame you because I was there too. Before implementing the tips below, I struggled to get through each day, much less find real fulfillment, in the office. Now, even after the toughest days on the job, I still come away with feelings of pride, accomplishment, and fulfillment. The best news is, so can you.

If you’re ready to make those hours count and find happiness and fulfillment in the office, then read on to find out how to be happy at work and find fulfillment in your career:

1. Discover the root(s) of the problem

For this first step, we’ll need to think back to 8th-grade physics (humor me). We all know Newton’s 3rd law, “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” When you think about it, the same can be said outside of physics, and we see this law play out in our daily lives, day after day.

Simply put, all the issues we deal with in the office (and life in general) affect us in a noticeable way.

If you’re appreciated at work, like the work you do and receive frequent praise, promotions, or raises, then this will probably have an altogether positive effect on your life in the office.

But what if we reverse this? What if you feel under appreciated, get passed up for promotions, or get denied raises? This is sure to affect the way you feel at work on a negative level.

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So, before you can implement the steps of feeling happy and fulfilled at work, we first have to discover the reasons why you don’t feel that way already.

Think about it, write a list, or make a mental note. Run through all the reasons you’re dissatisfied in the office, and don’t hold back. Knowing the exact obstacles you’re facing will make overcoming them that much easier.

In fact, as a side-challenge to this article, I recommend picking the top three reasons contributing to your dissatisfaction at work and using the following tips to tackle them.

2. Practice gratitude for an instant uplift

Did you know the simple act of feeling grateful can increase your happiness and make you more fulfilled at work?[1]

Well, it’s true, and it’s scientifically proven.

Dr. Lisa Firestone notes that practicing gratitude “reminds us of what we lacked in the past.” Meaning, it serves as both a boost to happiness and a bit of a wake-up call that things have been or could be, much worse.

Trying to conjure up feelings of gratitude can seem almost impossible when your work situation seems bleak, but hear me out: There are incredibly easy ways to get started and it doesn’t involve trying to “force” yourself to feel grateful about things that stress you out.

For an instant pick-me-up, try this:

Find a loose piece of paper, a blank sticky note, or anything you can write on, be it physical or digital. List just three things that you are absolutely without-a-doubt thankful for in your life.

Now here’s the trick: Don’t just list what you’re grateful for, you have to list why you’re grateful for them, too.

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For example, simply saying “I’m grateful for my kids” will probably make you feel good, sure, but what if we could amplify the warm, fuzzy feeling into real, lasting motivation?

Instead, write the reason you’re so thankful for your children. Is it because they make you laugh and forget about other stressors? Or maybe they help to remind you of why you go to work every day in the first place?

Whatever your reasons may be, jot them down and keep your list somewhere you can see it while you work. A quick glance at your gratitude list throughout the day can provide powerful, positive motivation to keep going.

Bonus:

If you can find just three things to be thankful for that specifically relate to your job, and list why those things make you grateful, your list can also help you find fulfillment in your work itself which can give you an even bigger boost of positivity throughout the day.

3. Take meaningful time for yourself

We all know creating a strong work-life balance can be crucial to feeling satisfied in our jobs, but rarely do we ever address how we’re spending our time outside of work.

Many of us survive a 9-hour work day and commute home only to find ourselves busy with our personal to-do lists, running a household, and taking care of a child (or 2 or 3, and so on).

If you spend all your time working, whether in the office or within your household, you’re going to feel drained at some point. This is why setting meaningful time for yourself every day is highly important.

Look, I get it: I don’t know anyone in the working world who can shun all responsibility for a 3-movie marathon or happy hour with friends whenever they feel like it. But finding time for yourself, be it just 30 minutes to an hour, can really make a difference in how you feel at work.

This works because you’ll have time to actually relax and let the day’s stress melt away while you enjoy something just for you. The to-do lists and stressors will still be there after you’re refreshed and ready to tackle them.

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No time for me-time? Try this:

If you have a busy household, you’ll need to capitalize on a block of time you know will be completely uninterrupted. The easiest way to do this: try waking up 30 minutes to an hour earlier than usual (or push bedtime back an hour if you’re a night owl, like me) and take time to do something you enjoy.

This could be reading with a cup of tea, catching up on Facebook, spending time on a passion project—anything! As long as it’s meaningful to you, it works!

Bonus:

Starting your day with meaningful time for yourself can set you up to have a positive mood that lasts well into office hours, and having your me-time in the evening can give you something positive to look forward to during the day.

4. Get productive and feel accomplished

Don’t you just love the feeling of checking the last item off of a hefty to-do list? That’s because self-motivation can be a huge driver of positivity and success.

When we accomplish something, no matter how small, it makes us feel good, plain and simple. Applying this tactic to your daily work can be the motivator you need to find fulfillment during the daily office grind.

While there are tons of steps to get more done at work, I’ll share my personal favorite: Prioritizing.

Now, many people handle prioritizing differently. Some like to tackle the little tasks first so they can spend focused time on the big to-dos. Others like to knock out the big items first and get to the smaller ones when they can.

No matter which camp you’re in, you may be missing one crucial step: Time management.

So how’s this work? When you factor in the amount of time your priorities will take, it can transform your productivity ten-fold.

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Say you have three top priorities for the day. You might jump into the smaller ones or the bigger ones depending on your preferred method, and then find yourself out of time and bringing work home with you at the end of the day.

This is prevented when you factor in time. Knowing how long each item will take, or deliberately setting specific blocks of time for your priorities can help you accomplish more in the same 8-9 (or 12) hours that you typically spend at work.

Try this:

Take a look at your priorities and consider how long they should take. Pop into your Google calendar (or Filofax, whatever works for you) and schedule time to work on your priority items around any important meetings or events of the day.

The most important thing to remember is to stick to your dedicated time.

Often, when we know exactly how long we have to work on something (and honor this time limit), we’re motivated to get more done on time to avoid taking work home at the end of the day.

The bottom line

There’s no need to waste 1/3 of our lives feeling unsatisfied at work. Luckily, you now have the tools to get started, take back your time, and become happy and fulfilled at work again.

The only question is — which tip will you try first?

Featured photo credit: Ellyot via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Psychology Today: The Healing Power of Gratitude

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