Productivity Tips

Clean Up Your Email Routine

By | Jun.26.13 | Daily Dispatch, Law Practice Management, Legal Technology, Productivity


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! 

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Andrea Cannavina is President/CEO of LegalTypist, Inc. She helps solo practitioners, law firms and companies that service the legal industry upgrade their business processes to digital in order to get more done with less—less employees, less equipment and less stress. Learn more about Andrea at

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4 Responses to “Clean Up Your Email Routine”

  1. Paul Burton
    26 June 2013 at 7:15 am #

    Great tips Andrea, though I tend to recommend to my clients that they maintain two email addresses – one for personal use and one for professional use. Helps with the work/life balancing act.

    Below are a number of other tips I regularly recommend, but the most exciting news is that our new app – RepriseMail – was just released. It’s an Outlook plugin that shows people how they’re using email and how to improve that use. More on that at

    Now, on to the tips:

    1. Turn New Message Alerts Off/Periodically Check Inboxes. Professionals receive around 100 emails each day. Being interrupted every time one hits the inbox destroys concentration. Turn off the alerts and check the inbox frequently – even three or four times per hour. That way, you are deciding when to focus on email instead of the email deciding for you.

    2. Create a Designated Workspace. Our peripheral vision never stops scanning the 120 degrees that the average human eye sees. Everything within that scope is constantly being assessed as friend or foe. Designate an area – the entire desk top – as a “quiet space” in which to work by removing absolutely everything from it. Place only the one thing being worked on in that space and see how your mind is able to get laser focused on it.

    3. Face Away from Traffic. Turning your desk so it doesn’t face the door is a good way to double down on the peripheral vision concept. Have the door off the back of one shoulder so that those passing by don’t catch your eye. Make this suggestion even more effective by mostly closing your door. Now, when people walk by, they can see you are in the office and you’re busy working. If they have questions, they’ll still knock, but for those who don’t the message is clear – keep on walking.

    Hope those help your readers too!


  2. Barry Doyle
    26 June 2013 at 8:45 am #

    Strongly disagree about multiple e-mail addresses. Having multiple accounts helps enormously in the process of filtering what gets brought to your attention and when. For example, having one e-mail address that is used for list servs only limits the number of time per day that list serv traffic becomes an attention drain. In my practice (PI), we have one for potential new clients that is always open so that we can respond immediately. The same principle applies to traffic from firm staff, vendors, opposing counsel, and clients. I have found having multiple addresses helps me manage the flow of e-mail traffic without having to think about it.

  3. Andrea Cannavina
    26 June 2013 at 6:31 pm #

    Thanks Paul!

    Just as you do, I advise to keep business and personal completely separate. My tip was regarding maintaining one business email address.

    Thanks for sharing your tips. Every little bit helps!


  4. Bruce D.
    28 June 2013 at 12:52 pm #

    These are some great tips. I never understood why people used multiple email addresses for a business, all it does is confuse clients and that just ends in bad results. Thanks for the advice!