Have you ever felt as if your email was working against you? Your inbox has reached unprecedented levels of clutter. You’ve been a part of an email chain for so long that you’re lost and can’t figure out which email contained that important attachment. And somehow, you can find every spam message from the past 2 years but can’t seem to find that one key correspondence your boss sent you 2 weeks ago.
Theoretically, email should enhance your productivity and facilitate your communications. But when you’re in a constant battle with your inbox to keep your communications organized and efficient, it can detract from your work. Thankfully, we have 3 email management steps you can take to help you better handle your email and integrate it into your work processes.
Consider your provider
There’s been quite a bit of discussion out there as to whether desktop email or webmail is the better option. With desktop, you can manage your email offline and encrypt your emails locally, ensuring that your data stays on your servers. Plus, desktop clients tend to offer more advanced and customizable filtering solutions, and easier management of multiple email accounts. On the other hand, webmail is particularly appealing in our increasingly mobile lifestyle, as it is accessible from anywhere as long as you have access to the internet. There’s no worrying about synchronization, as everything is consolidated on one browser.
It’s really up to you to decide which option is the right fit for your company. Consider your priorities and your business’s needs for an email provider. There’s a reason both options are still available, and a reason that each side feels so strongly about their chosen solution – they each offer different benefits. If you are handling multiple email addresses and require a solution that supports complex mail rules, a desktop client such as Sparrow or Postbox may be best for you. If instead your top priority is for your communication to be portable and convenient with enhanced user experience, go with a webmail provider.
So far, we’ve only touched on one side of email – the technology. But there’s something else we have to consider – the user. Yes, that means you. Always-accessible email or high-end filtering systems are decidedly less helpful when you ignore the human aspect of email management. The truth is, we’re an important factor here – email is about communication after all.
It’s not enough to just do one great email purge every few months (though we acknowledge that it’s extremely satisfying). Instead, you have to perform regular maintenance and practice good email etiquette to keep up with your inbox. Unnecessary emails should be deleted as soon as possible – you really don’t need to keep every newsletter, do you? Additionally, emails that require a quick response should get just that; don’t let them sit and stew in your inbox, it just creates clutter and delays productivity.
Any emails that you need to save should be categorized in appropriate folders. Trust us, it’ll be much easier to find them later and staying organized will help keep anything from slipping through the cracks. Plus, if you don’t have time to respond now, taking the time to mark the email as “unread” or placing it in a folder to act on later will it them from getting buried in your inbox under new emails.
Sounds simple right? Well, it actually is, it just takes a little bit of time and dedication. Don’t think of your email management as a distraction from work, it’s an essential part of today’s business world and can be mastered with a sound game plan.
Insert your emails into your document management system
A high-quality document management system should be equipped to store your emails securely and incorporate them into your workflow processes. It’s a good practice to store emails that are essential to projects alongside the files that they pertain to. This consolidates everything in one place and eliminates confusion in locating particular email chains or attachments specific to certain emails.
When you transfer emails into workflow, this allows you to share them directly with other users without creating additional email trails or other complications. These people can see the email alongside all other supporting emails or documents. You can also make redactions to the email if any confidential information must be protected.
The beauty of placing emails into your business’s document management system is that it takes the pressure off of your email system. It saves space and allows you to keep a clear inbox. And everything is stored in a secure and encrypted system so you never have to worry about your data being compromised. A well-developed system should be easily-searchable, so that your important emails and documents are easily located by typing in a simple keyword.
Now, the point of this article is to make your email management easier, not more complicated. So it’s important to consider a document management system that does just that. Email integration into workflow should require nothing more than a one-click save – as simple as doing your regular email categorizing, but with added benefits.
61% of working internet users say email is very important to their jobs. We’re betting that since you’re reading this article, you’re one of them. Something that important to your work can be just ignored and put by the wayside if it’s not being used efficiently. It’s time for us to take charge and make email an important part of our productivity again.
This article was originally published as 3 Email Management Tips to Take Back Control of Your Inbox on January 22nd, 2015.