Tips to Stay on Top of Email

Posted: July 25, 2014

We know it’s a little late for spring-cleaning, but how about some “summer-tidying”? Okay, so it doesn’t have quite the same ring, but it is important to take a moment before we go back to the daily grind of fall and straighten up a bit — namely, our inboxes. Here are some tips to help you get organized and stay on the ball…

Use Folders and Rules

At ttcInnovations, we use Microsoft Outlook® to get the job done. Outlook has many features that can help keep your inbox in order. You’re probably already familiar with folders — a convenient way to file emails. The way you arrange and manage these folders is completely up to you; employ whatever system comes most naturally. If you’re not sure which method to use, start with one (or more) of the following suggestions:

  • Create a folder for each new project and keep all project-related emails together.
  • Make a folder for emails that contain statements of work, project plans, or other attachments.
  • File by project, then create subfolders for each role within the project. (For example: Create a folder for “XYZ Project,” then add subfolders to keep emails from clients, project managers, writers, and other roles separate.)

Another feature of Outlook you may find beneficial is the rules function. Rules are used to pre-sort unread emails so you don’t have to! Again, the manner in which you utilize this feature is up to your own discretion. Set up rules to sort incoming messages by subject, sender, keywords, etc. For more information on how to create rules in Outlook, refer to the following guide.

Keep Work and Personal Email Separate

Use your work email address for job-related communication only. Don’t use your professional address to sign up for that weekly “Chocolate Lovers” newsletter, and move the conversations with Uncle Jerry to a different account. If you’ve received any junk emails, be sure to unsubscribe or move them to the Spam folder. This will keep the clutter down and ensure that your work-related messages get top priority.

Read Thoroughly and Reply Promptly

Organization is key, but attention to detail is also crucial for successful virtual communication. When you receive a new work email, be sure to read it completely. Even if the message is not directed specifically to you, there may be information pertinent to your role or a change in the timeline that will affect you down the line. Or maybe someone complimented your outstanding work — you’ll never know if you don’t read everything!

When an email requires your response, try to answer back as quickly as possible. If you won’t be finishing a task immediately, send a quick reply to let the recipient know when he or she can expect the deliverable.

Remember to be specific in your replies, as well. Too often, we receive a simple “yes” or “no” in response to a question that needs a more detailed answer. And if there was more than one question, then for goodness’ sake —answer more than one question!

We hope these and our other virtual organization tips will help you get ready to tackle the upcoming months after your summer “break”!

Tell us: How do you stay on top of your inbox?

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