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Top Tips to Control Your Work E-mails

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key guidelines to stay on top of your e-mails at work and get the best results out of them.

E-mail has become an indispensable tool for building up one’s work efficiency today. However, it is a well proven fact that in case of bad management, handling e-mails could turn into a total waste of time and a major cause of inefficiency.

The following are the key guidelines by to stay on top of your e-mails at work and get the best results out of them.

Tip 1: Always scan your incoming work e-mails: identify spam and prioritize the rest. This can be done by:

  • 1. Checking on the sender’s name (are you expecting anything urgent from this specific person?)
  • 2. Checking on subject lines (title looks urgent to you or not?)
  • 3. Checking on the priority that the sender has given the e-mail message.

Tip 2: Fostering a “Staged Replies” technique is always advisable when your inbox is jammed with loads of work- related e-mails, as this allows you to maintain contact with the sender, even when you have more important tasks to focus on.

There are usually 2 types of incoming e-mails:

  • 1. Clear-cut e-mails: Send out a brief reply right away when an e-mail requires you to (i.e.: confirmation of a meeting attendance: Thank you, I’ll be there).Don’t drag or keep it lying in your inbox.
  • 2. E-mails demanding attention: this is when further information needs to be collected or further thinking might be required from you before sending out a reply or action plan. Inform the person concerned though, that you will be getting to him/ her in due time. Always try to keep the waiting time down to a minimum.

Tip 3: Maintain a logical e-mail filing system:

Get as innovative as you want, but make sure you keep it simple and uncomplicated in order for you to access your archives easily in the future. (i.e.: create general folders and divide them into subfolders following a standardized criterion such as date, topic or sender, etc…)

Tip 4: Get rid of all e-mails that you do not need:

Make sure to go over your inbox and delete all irrelevant e-mails at least once a week. Make it a point to send all your unwanted e-mails to the “deleted messages” section once you have archived what you want to hang on to.

Additional Essential Tips:

  • Set specific times to handle your incoming mails during the course of your work day. It is usually advisable to check them at least 3 times a day, especially during busy periods of work.
  • Put your “out of office” reply on when you are taking time off. This will obviously prevent senders from repeatedly sending e-mails your way once they have initiated the first contact (and gotten your automated response). Always leave the name and contact of the person in charge while you are away and remember to state when exactly you are expected back in the office for senders to know when to contact you again if needed.
  • Protect yourself against spam: this can be done by using a filtering system, setting high levels of privacy in your account options, avoid subscription to unwanted newsletters, etc…
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