Simplify Your Email - Tips & Best Practices for Business
In this series we aim to help business leaders and businesses simplify their technology. Technology can get out of control and overwhelming and expensive! As a Managed IT Service Provider, we see it all the time! That's why in this series, we aim to help business leaders and organizations as a whole simplify their technology. This article focuses on ways to simplify email for businesses.
Don't feel like reading? Here's a 57 second video recap.
How do I manage email?
Four easy ways to manage your email more efficiently: 1) Organize your email with folders. 2) Archive, move, delete messages from your inbox every day. 3) Train your spam filter by flagging spam and phishing that made it to your inbox. 4) Set a time when you check your email - don't react immediately to every message you receive.
Email is obviously a critical tool for virtually all businesses, but it can also be a huge time suck! Here are a few best practices that can make using email a better and more straightforward experience. We're not suggesting that businesses should shy away from the nuances of email, but rather that most organizations could benefit from setting some guidance that makes using email easier and more efficient. Information regarding Kosh Solutions' managed IT and cybersecurity services.
Inbox Overload! - Organize Your Inbox
I asked Kosh's CEO, CRO, and Sales Rep to send a snapshot of their inbox count...let's see who is keeping up with their emails!
Krishna, our outside sales rep:
Krishna is on top of his email. 1:24pm and an inbox with only three emails.
Koert, Kosh's cofounder and CRO:
Koert's email is truly overloaded! He has 9,500+ emails that he deleted based on the subject line - unread. He only has 1 email in his inbox that is unread! He has 51 items in his inbox that he flagged and uses as a to-do list. He gets over one hundred emails per day...too many!
Why is keeping up with your email important?
It's not enough to just "keep up" with your email, you need to address your email situation in a manner that is more efficient than instantly looking at every email that flies in.
According to a study by McKinsey Global Institute, the average interaction worker spends an estimated 28 percent of the workweek managing e-mail! According to Forbes some employees are spending 2.6 hours per day dealing with 120 emails per day! Businesses should provide guidance on communication expectations. After receiving an email, how quickly is a response expected? Setting guidelines for the various roles within your company will help both sides of the communication.
Tips to deal with the incredible number of emails you receive
Always archive, delete, or flag emails after reading them.
If you use Outlook, you can utilize the options at the top of the email:
Delete – self explanatory
Archive – if you want to hang on to the email but you don’t need to do anything with it
Sweep – here is where you can create a simple rule to move past and future emails from a sender to a particular folder.
Flag – if you use the flag dropdown you get the option to indicate when to get to this email.
Rules – for some users setting up custom rules to move emails as they come in makes sense (see below for more on this)
Unsubscribe from junk mail
If you need to take an action on an email, make sure to flag it or categorize it appropriately so you can quickly find those emails. Don't leave emails requiring action in your inbox.
CEO Email Tip: Travis, Kosh's CEO, says he literally gets hit with 1,000+ emails per day! To stay on top of everything, he categorizes emails into the following categories: 1) Important Urgent 2) Important Not Urgent 3) Not Important and Urgent 4) Not Important and Not Urgent
Identify Spam and Phishing Emails
Similar to unsubscribing from junk mail, you should click to identify spam and phishing emails. By flagging these emails, you will train your spam filter to start grabbing these emails before they hit your inbox.
In Outlook there is the "Report" dropdown where you can indicate with the email is phishing or junk.
What's the difference between spam and phishing emails?
Spam is more like an annoying ad trying to sell you something. The desire of the person/organization sending the spam is to get you to purchase.
Phishing on the other hand is a message trying to get you to visit some website or input information. The desire of the person/organization sending phishing emails is to extract information from you and use it in cybercrime.
How to find previous emails?
With so many emails containing important information, you and your staff need to be adept at using the search function. It can be a huge waste of time sifting and browsing through old emails to find information.
To master or level up your search skills, here's a useful guide to searching in Outlook: Searching Emails in Outlook
Are you over checking your email?
The average employee is getting interrupted 50 to 60 times per day, and about 80% of these interruptions are unimportant. Email interruptions play a huge part in the distraction story. Checking your email every time a message comes in is pulling your concentration away from work. It is far more efficient to check your email at certain times during the day rather than reactively as messages come in. Switching tasks incurs huge transition costs. If you multiply these transition costs across your company, they add up to large dips in efficiency.
Let's assume when a new email notification *dings* and you go and check that email it takes you a total of one minute to get back to your task. If you're getting just thirty emails that is at least 30 minutes of misused time. If you have 30 employees that is 900 minutes that are now "wasted" every day!
Tips to limit email distractions:
Check your email less frequently if appropriate. Check your email no more than once every hour.
Turn off notifications. You’re going to check your email within an hour so, no need to have a *ding* or popup pull your concentration away from the task at hand.
Make sure all staff understand the email communication expectations. For example, maybe the expectations are that an email is dealt with within three hours.
Which email automations should you use?
Of course, we love automating tasks! However, we have found some email automations are more useful than others.
We recommend using the Signature and Quick Part automations. Everyone is familiar with the signature feature, but Quick Part is lesser known. Quick Part is used for messages or text that you use over and over again. It's just a way to save some text that you use often and put it in the email. For a great step by step guide to creating your own Quick Part check out this article.
We don't typically recommend using rules and filters. Sometimes these automations work wonderfully, but many times we see customers missing emails because of these rules and filters. It's usually better to setup a folder system and clear your inbox daily - be your own rule.
Reduce back and forth by writing better emails
If you can write a better email in the first place, that might alleviate some of the email back and forth. Here are some simple tips to remember when writing an email.
Provide enough details from the start so the receiver can take action
Have a clear action item
Include key dates or times
Training staff to also write emails in a more concise and clear manner will contribute to better email experiences companywide.
Emails will continue to be a major component to business communication so addressing even what seems like minor inefficiencies will pay dividends year after year.
Check out our article on how to manage your business' IT infrastructure for more actionable business tech tips and guides.
For more on this topic, check out the Harvard Business Review's take: How to Spend Way Less Time on Email Every Day (hbr.org)
The information contained in this communication is intended for limited use for informational purposes only. It is not considered professional advice, and instead, is general information that may or may not apply to specific situations. Each case is unique and should be evaluated on its own by a professional qualified to provide advice specifically intended to protect your individual situation. Kosh is not liable for improper use of this information.