Inbox Zero

This link came into my inbox yesterday and given my liking for anything that helps people manage their inbox, naturally I was curious to find out how Rebecca Corliss did this.

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Email management in the new year

We know that email messages build up without us even noticing – until the inbox gets full or someone asks why we haven’t replied to an email that sought a response. We look at the number of messages and gasp, then leave it all because it’s too hard to even think about dealing with all those messages.

I got a newsletter recently suggesting that we deal with email in the days before Christmas when people had some down time at work.

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Free eBook – how to manage your email inbox

email ebook cover The volume of email arriving in the email inbox has become a major problem for many people. Since I’ve been working with small business owners I’ve realised just how big this problem is.

From time to time I’ve shared my thoughts on managing the email ogre in my blog. Now I’ve put some of those blogs together here so you have hints and tips on managing your email in one place. This will make it easier for you to use this advice to keep your email under control.

Check out my free eBook 8 Ways to Manage Your Email Inbox so you too can start to manage your email inbox.

Email Management – love it or hate it

When I gave this presentation recently I started by saying that the email experience is different for everyone – some people get maybe 10 emails a day while others get 100 or more. Each situation needs a different approach to managing email.

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Do you check your e-mail first thing in the morning? Big mistake

Do you check your e-mail first thing in the morning? Big mistake

Here’s what Tim Ferris has to say in the Huffington Post  in an article entitled “9 Things You Should Never Do At Work

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My email has stopped working. Grrrr!

All my email messages are still there and I can still see them.  But the little line at the top of the screen says “not responding” and I’m getting tired of trying to make it respond.

I can get by though because I have a backup email system that contains all my email.  I also have important messages saved in my directory structure. So I can find most of the emails I need.

Does that sound a bit like Little Goody Two-Shoes? Maybe so but to me it’s simply good business practice.

What I am missing is the folder structure I had set up in my usual email (MS Outlook).  In particular my “Action Required” folder where I saved anything that needed some action from me..  I don’t have that same folder structure in my backup system (Gmail). Now if I had only set that up before this happened …

Anyway, now it’s off to my IT support team to sort me out  in Outlook so I don’t waste any more time searching for emails that require me to take some action. And when they’ve done their bit, I’ll set up a mirrored folder system in Gmail so I won’t have the same frustration next time. Maybe I’ll use the Gmail Priority Inbox system.

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How to manage your electronic documents across devices

In my last blog I discussed the complexity of managing electronic information on all the different devices we can use to run our businesses today; the laptops, ipads, tablets smart phones  etc.

I gave you some rules to consider to help you keep your business information manageable when you’re out and about.

I noted that there are some technological solutions.  Lets have a look at these now.

For example you can use a laptop as your main device whether you’re working in the office, working with a client at their place, or when you’re out of town on business.

You can sync all your devices; use cloud based email (eg Gmail, icloud) and storage (eg Dropbox, Google docs).

You do have to think about what is best for you and your business and learn how to make the best use of the technologies and electronic devices.

You will still need to have a filing system within your chosen solution so that your business information is organised for quick and easy access no matter what format – email, text documents, spreadsheets, databases, images.

If you don’t I can promise you that your information will still be in mess no matter how much you spend on the technology.

That’s why I created my eWorkbook ‘Keeping Good Records in Small Businesses’ so you can learn what to do, what is important and how to do it. If you want to create your own filing system then this book takes you through the steps one at a time.  Alternatively you can use it as a starting point and work through it with one of our consultants – in person or via the cloud.

You can read about more hints and tips to improve your business in my free eBook; and even more if you download the eWorkbook that gives you a full set of instructions on how to set up a filing system for your business.

Judy Owen has been working with businesses of all sizes and complexities for more than 20 years to improve and streamline the access to their business information.  She and her team can show you how to reduce risk, improve productivity and increase profits with good business systems and processes in your business.

 

It’s easy to manage your email inbox: don’t send email

The email inbox is still the biggest problem for lots of people I work with.  The best advice I’ve seen recently about managing your inbox is don’t send email.  Really?? How does that work? You simply can’t live without email!

How often do you send an email to say “thanks” for a message sent to you? Is that message really necessary? How often do you receive an email message that simply says “thanks” or “OK”

Your email message generates emails back.

Think carefully about the next email you send. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Why are you sending this information by email?
  • Is it really necessary?
  • How will that email benefit you and the receiver?
  • What does it add to the information the other person needs
  • Is this the best way to communicate your message? Or is there another way to get your message through to someone else?

Don’t do long email threads.  If the email conversation is generating a worthwhile discussion, phone the person, go to their desk/office and talk to them or arrange to go out for a coffee or lunch.  If more than one person is involved, arrange a meeting – even if only for a few minutes.

If you need to keep a record of the phone or in person discussion, write a quick note when you get back to my desk and file it.  If you need to remember something important from that discussion – say the time and place for another meeting, make a note of it – in a notebook or in your smartphone.

Now you’re not going to stop the emails altogether.  And I don’t suggest you do.  Email is a very effective way of communicating with other people.  But use it sensibly.

Organise the emails you go get into folders so emails like newsletters, social media alerts and such don’t actually reach your inbox.  Google has started to do this very effectively with Gmail.  Check out this video.

If you don’t use Gmail, it’s worth taking a few minutes to follow the Google’s advice and set up your own folders in the email package you use.

For more information on how to do this go to my blog “Demystify your inbox”  and “Good habits around email

Remember your email inbox is not a filing cabinet

You can contact me for more help or you can read about more hints and tips to improve your business in my free eBook; and even more if you download the eWorkbook that gives you a full set of instructions on how to set up a filing system for your business, including filing emails.

Judy Owen has been working with businesses of all sizes and complexities for more than 20 years to improve and streamline the access to their business information.  She and her team can show you how to reduce risk, improve productivity and increase profits with good business systems and processes in your business.

 

 

 

 

 

Ease your frustration with organised business information

The most common gripe I hear is the frustration of not being able to find a document; it might be an electronic document, a piece of paper on a desk or in a folder or an email.

This is not surprising when I look at how a lot of people store their business information.

It might seem to be safe to keep all your emails and never delete them “in case they are needed one day” or keep all your paper work in piles on your desk (or on the floor when you run out of desk space) so “its handy” or leave all your electronic files in “My Documents” or on your desktop screen because you think you can find them quickly by doing a Google-type search.

The reality is however that none of these storage methods work effectively, especially when you need something in a hurry.

We all have some form of structure in our lives. Some people lead more structured lives than others with set times for each activity, others are less timebound but still have some structure in their day.  Each day we eat, sleep, go to work, go home – usually with a timeframe around these activities.

There is structure at work too – hours and days of work, who does what, when and how much you get paid or how much time you can take to have a holiday.

Not everyone realises though that they need structure for their business information too. Even the most organised people can find themselves struggling to find that elusive document when they need to rush off to a meeting with a client or customer, or can’t find an email they need to action.

It’s not really difficult to establish some structure into your email  or your electronic or paper documents into folders.

I generally set up a directory structure for electronic documents to help clients organise their business information.  This structure is mirrored in email folders and also for a paper filing system if they have one. This makes it easy for them to find what they want regardless of its format.

Remember your in box is not a filing cabinet!   

Once you have the structure in place you then need to develop good habits around using the structure – all the time!.

You’ll be amazed at how much more you can achieve in a day if you don’t have to spend unproductive time looking for information.

You can read about more hints and tips to improve productivity in your business in my free eBook; and even more if you download the eWorkbook that give you a full set of instructions on how to set up a filing system for your business.