Each of us spends hours each day reading through emails, replying to silly messages and getting in contact with new people. Email is one of those skills that we all wish we were better at.
In fact, Elon Musk once said that his core competency is email, i.e. what sets him apart from his competitors is that he’s incredible at email. At first, this might seem like a joke, but when you look at the day of a business owner, almost all of it is spent communicating.
If you were the owner of a large company like Tesla, wouldn’t you do everything that you could to become the most effective communicator possible?
Most of us use email because it’s the most efficient way for us to communicate with other people in the office coherently and it leaves a written record of the communication. But why would you bother trying to become better at email?
Well, if you think email isn’t a skill, you’re wrong. The best people will work 5x faster than you, at the very least. That means that they can clear their inbox in an hour, whereas you spend most of your working day on emails.
If you can increase your efficiency by even a few percent, you can save yourself valuable minutes and hours throughout the day. This gives you more time to spend on important activities that can grow your business.
Even if you’re not the business owner, perhaps you’re the head of digital marketing, improving your email efficiency can mean more emails sent, therefore more replies and more publicity for the company.
Just like we would have taken personal improvement classes in the 70’s to improve our public speaking and interpersonal skills, we must dedicate time to improving our email skills.
Our first tip is the biggest time saver that you’ll ever learn. Just don’t respond to emails that don’t need your attention. If you simply refuse to answer to a few emails each day you’ll save yourself valuable minutes and at no loss to anybody else.
The truth is that the large majority of emails don’t require a response. In fact, unless somebody asks a question in the email there is no need to respond in any way.
You might think that this is extremely rude, after all, the other person needs to know you got the email, right?
Wrong. You’re overthinking this. If the person cares they’ll send a follow-up email, but in most cases, they don’t expect a response, and you don’t owe them one. The reality is that business is fast moving and you need to save those valuable minutes to spend on growth.
Setup an Auto-Responder
If you really can’t survive without replying to all of your emails you can easily setup an auto-responder. The best way to use an auto-responder in our experience is for when you don’t reply within a certain period.
This way, if you don’t reply within 24-hours the program will automatically send an email saying something like; “I read all emails but might not respond, thanks so much”. Plenty of employees and business owners use this to save them valuable time.
Our third tip is one that most people won’t be aware of, and that’s canned responses. This is a plugin for Gmail that allows you to save common responses and then insert them with just a couple clicks.
This can save you HUGE amounts of time each day, especially if you repeatedly receive the same questions. For example; you could setup a canned response to ask people what time they are free for a meeting, or to say thanks, or to answer common questions.
Once Per Day
If you find yourself attached to your email at all times, then you need to make the promise to yourself that you’ll only access your email once per day.
The truth is often hard to hear, but you probably don’t need to reply to most emails right away. In fact, many can wait days if not weeks and have no noticeable impact on anybody. Accessing your email once per day forces you to work more efficiently and prevents you from becoming overly engrossed in it.
Keep Your Mobile Email Free
Finally, please delete the email app on your mobile. Not only should you ensure that you’re getting a break from work once you leave the office, but you’re slowing yourself down by a significant amount for no reason.
Unless you work in an industry that lives and dies by speed, the emails can wait til the next morning. The added benefit is that you can type a million times faster on a PC than you can on a mobile.
That means that the email that took your 10-minutes on your phone might only take 1-minute the next morning. Which sounds better?