Nothing messes with your productivity like a clogged email inbox. Fortunately, it is never too late to polish up your daily e-routine — or to trash bad habits that are slowing you down. Andrea Cannavina is an expert in teaching lawyers to do more in less time. Try out her five favorite ways to streamline your email routine and see if you can’t boost your efficiency … starting now!
- Put a process in place to sort and manage email. If you don’t have a systematic way to process each message, you’re going to end up with an inbox that is overflowing. Consider that your inbox is like your kitchen sink. The more you pile up in there, the less likely you’ll be able to find something when you need it. Your inbox should never be the final destination of any particular email message.
- Stop responding immediately. Most people have email access on their person around the clock. (I hope you are not actually connected 24/7, but statistics indicate most people do sleep with their personal mobile device not far away.) This does not mean you are required to respond to email 24/7. In fact, I highly recommend that you don’t. If you do, you will set the expectation that you will always get back to them “right away” — making yourself crazy trying to live up to that expectation or, worse, not living up to it. We all know what happens when client expectations are not met.
- Don’t use multiple email addresses. There is administration and maintenance time built in to every email you send and receive. Every additional email address you have only adds more. Not only do you have to take time to check all of your different email inboxes, you also have to maintain and update spam filters. Use only one email address for business, and you will only have to maintain that one account and train one spam filter.
- Keep your domain email strictly for business. Don’t subscribe to every webzine, group site and listserv through your business account. Instead, it’s perfectly acceptable for you to use a Gmail account for those types of communications. Remember, every message your business domain email receives requires some type of administration — even if it’s just to delete it — and you don’t have that time to waste. Instead, collect anything not directly related to your practice in Gmail and access outside of your “work” email.
- Consider not keeping it all synced. We all know how hard it is to keep that Sent folder synced across multiple pieces of equipment and technology. So don’t. Work on email from one central location (such as your desk) and use technology such as LogMeIn to securely and remotely connect to that equipment and software from anywhere. For me, as long as I can see what is coming in, I rarely need to use the Send function from any mobile device.