Email Tips to Increase Business Efficiency

Here are SMac’s top 3 email organization tips, in countdown style:

Using “Done” Folders

Within each folder that you create (there should be one for each client/team member/department/etc.), create a subfolder called “Done.”

Yes, that’s it!

Let me explain in more detail:

First of all, the title of this “Done” folder really doesn’t matter, you could just as easily call it “Finished” or “Completed” or “Does Not Require Any Further Attention”. Whatever works for you is just fine.

Secondly, how would you use this new subfolder? Whenever an email needs no further action on your part, you move it to the Done folder. Super simple! This keeps the main folder from getting cluttered, you can indeed see at a glance what you need to focus on, and your main folders essentially become your To Do folders.

For example, let’s say that your Client #1 has sent you some tasks that need to be done via multiple emails. When you’re ready to do work for Client #1 all you have to do is look in their Client #1 folder, and each time you complete a task you move that particular email to the Done folder.

With this system, every time you look in the Client #1 folder all you will see is work that needs to be done. Sweet! What a huge time saver! And a super easy way to increase your small business efficiency.

Set Up Rules

Email rules are part of every email client and can be one of the top time savers when it comes to email organization.

Basically what a rule does is when an email is received into your Inbox certain actions are taken based on rules that you’ve defined.

For example, you can set up a rule that will direct any emails that come from Client #1 directly into the Client #1 folder. With Outlook and Entourage (that’s for Macs) you can even assign these emails to a Category and therefore a colour. Colour coded emails – how fun! And how easy to spot at a glance.

Let’s say that you’ve already created your folders and subfolders, and now you’ve set up your rules: one for each client, another for your team, and another for your newsletters.

Whenever new emails are received you can see at a glance exactly how many emails you have received from each client, from your team, and how many newsletters you’ve got.

If you’ve been waiting for an email from Client #1, you can spot it as soon as it arrives and go straight to it. You can ignore everything in the Newsletter folder until you have some free time to read up. If Client #3 has higher priority than Client #2, you can keep an eye on their folder and attend to their emails as soon as they arrive.

With rules there is no more manual sorting and therefore no buildup of emails in your main Inbox – everything gets automatically sorted to where it is supposed to go. Think about how this can help to save you time, not only by taking the sorting out of your hands, but by helping you prioritize your work. Guaranteed to ramp up your business efficiency!

Increase Email Efficiency

And here it is, my Super Email Tip #1, guaranteed to increase your efficiency: Manually Send and Receive.

What?!? How the heck can doing something manually make you more efficient?!? Trust me!

Turning off your automatic Send & Receive schedule and switching to only manually clicking the Send & Receive button CAN make you more efficient, and I’ll tell you how through a story about how I stumbled across this super tip by accident:

One day when my email was down I didn’t notice it at first. I was hard at work cranking out task after task when I suddenly realized that I was getting a lot of work done. Hmmm, was I on a roll or something? What was the difference in how I was doing things? Don’t get me wrong, it was a great feeling to be so on top of everything, but I was curious about the why and how so that I could continue to repeat it. And then it dawned on me – I had become more efficient simply by not being interrupted by new emails arriving! Who knew?

Once I really sat down and thought about it I realized that whenever new emails would automatically arrive I would always go and take a peek, and sometimes I would end up changing what I was doing based on what had just come in. Not altogether a bad thing, but it is a lot harder to finish any tasks if you’re jumping around all the time, right?

I decided to switch to manually sending and receiving to see how it went, and lo and behold the pattern of increased efficiency continued! So now I like that I have control over when new emails come in. I can work on whatever I want, and when it’s finished then I will go check my emails.

I know it sounds simple, and maybe a bit bizarre, but give it a try and you’ll see that taking control of your sending and receiving will indeed increase your small business efficiency.