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Managing the email overwhelm

Do you feel you have a great system for managing your incoming email? Or maybe you are someone that feels you never have time to tackle your inbox, and are watching it grow by the day...here are some simple tips:

1. Develop a routine for handling your mail. For example, set aside fixed times in the day - whether it be first thing before starting to see patients/clients, while having your morning coffee (if you get one!) or at the end of your working day. The important thing is that you schedule the time into your diary to make sure your email is managed each day at a time that best suits you. Avoid the trap of stopping what you are doing to read the email that has just come in. If you have administration staff, the frequency that they check and reply to email should be appropriate according to your practice guidelines/benchmarks.

2. Scan the email headers and decide immediately which messages to delete. Think of it like grabbing a pile of mail out of your home letterbox or post box and binning the unwanted catalogues and other things you are not interested in before you walk inside and open the envelopes.

3. Set up folders to categorise your emails. In Outlook for example, you can use the "Rules" toolbar option on your homescreen to divert emails from specific senders into folders you have set up. Be judicious when setting up folders though, as you don't want to end up with folders brimming with unread email! A starting point might be to set up a folder for email updates you subscribe to (e.g. The Fair Work Ombudsman Employer Newsletter). These are email you don't need to reply to, but are important to read at your scheduled time. 

4. Avoid the ping pong effect where messages go back and forth – keep your outgoing emails to the point, and if it’s likely discussion or clarification is required, pick up the phone first and use a brief email afterwards to summarise or confirm your conversation if you want a written record of what has been discussed.

5. Use online tools like Trello. In our office, when we receive an email with handy information for a project or activity, we forward it to our Trello inbox for later reference and action. Then we can delete it from our email inbox! 

You may be an email star and be successfully doing some (or all!) of the above already – but if not, try putting some simple strategies into place and aim to have it down pat by the end of the year!

Read 1442 times Last modified on Tuesday, 25 October 2016 10:51