Hey! It’s Bri again from B&L Core Group. I’m so glad you’ve decided to come back to the second part in our series of “4 FREE WAYS TO INCREASE BUSINESS PRODUCTVITITY”.
Today we are going to discuss one of the absolute MAJOR distractions when it comes to business and productivity. Are you ready for it…
PART 2: E-MAILS!
Yikes!! Most of you reading are probably shaking your head in agreement that e-mails can absolutely consume your day if you let them.
For the past six years, I’ve worked in a global manufacturing company. Within that company, not only did I have daily communications with people inside of my department, but I also had regular communications with production, sales, and customers.
Tack on project specific e-mails and now you’re being CC’d on e-mails that you just need for reference or need to be aware of but not actively participate in the discussion. I can honestly tell you, that scenario probably accounts for 70% if not more of my daily e-mails.
E-mails are a fact of life in business. It’s still one of the main ways we communicate in this technological age. Think about all of the information that is stored in those e-mails – text, attachments, photos, contact information.
How many times have you tried to find something in your e-mails by doing a search? Most of the time you find it, but not after at least 5 minutes of clicking on a bunch of e-mails to finally find what you’re looking for.
So how do we make our e-mail more organized so that we can find what we need quicker and get back to doing the revenue generating tasks?
If you’ve worked in a corporate setting before, you’re likely familiar with Microsoft Outlook. Most large businesses use Outlook to manage their e-mail servers. I personally have used Outlook with every business I have worked for since college.
It wasn’t until I started my own journey to business ownership with our chiropractic office that I knew I didn’t have IT to set up Outlook for me. We ended up using a free GMAIL account and after much trial and error and countless tutorials, I finally figured out how to set up my FREE GMAIL account to Outlook.
I remember that day like it was yesterday. I finally could function in my e-mail again!
So how exactly do I become more productive in Microsoft Outlook? Well, there are four major steps to follow:
1. Use a free tool like Unroll.Me to get rid of the garbage subscriptions that you never read.
I mean come on. How many times have you had to enter your e-mail into a website to get a free worksheet download? How about the countless e-mails you continue to get after purchasing something from a website that was a one-off purchase? Just like a cluttered mind or workspace, a cluttered inbox can become very distracting and overwhelming. Using the free tool allows you to quickly unsubscribe from newsletters and special offers without having to manually review each e-mail.
2. DELETE, DELETE, DELETE
I know this is hard and time-consuming, but it’s much needed. After you use a free tool, you’ll have to delete all of the garbage e-mails you will never read. A little tip – find an e-mail of the newsletter or special off and then SORT by FROM. Then you can delete all of the e-mails from that sender in just a click of a button!
Oh, and don’t forget about all of those one-word e-mails that you can’t seem to delete when they’re sent to you. You know the ones I’m talking about! The “OK” or “Thank you” e-mails that you often get. Instant digital clutter! Start getting into the habit of immediately deleting them.
3. Create organized folders.
This one might seem obvious, but I can’t tell you how many people I know that don’t create folders within their e-mail. You still have valuable content stored in that e-mail that you may need to reference later. Take time to do this right, but break the habit of keeping EVERY e-mail. Outlook gives you the flexibility to create both folders and subfolders. Be as general or as specific as you need to be.
I personally try not to be too specific unless I’m working on a major project that is going to be ongoing for a long period of time. If so, then it gets its own subfolder under the main “Project” folder. Otherwise, you will end up with a gazillion folders and be too detailed.
Some examples of my commonly used folders:
– Suppliers & Supply Chain – subfolders could be by supplier name.
– Department Communication – subfolders could be certain groups within your department (i.e. buyers, schedulers, production control)
– Management – I pin this one to my favorites. I keep all of my boss’s e-mails on up through Senior Management in this folder. I consider them of high importance and needing immediate attention.
– Customers & Sales – You could break this down into subfolders by categories such as distributors, customer orders, returns, etc.
– Logistics – I have subfolders with specific carriers (i.e. USPS, FedEx, UPS).
4. Use Outlook Rules
If you are lucky to already know about Outlook Rules, then you are already a step ahead of the game! Outlook Rules are a life saver. Microsoft did a great job with this functionality.
So what exactly are Outlook Rules?
Well, Outlook Rules are basically and automated action that you can set up to tell Outlook how to treat your e-mails.
For example, remember when I said my most important e-mails are from my boss and Senior Management? Well, I can set up a rule that is based on the sender address to automatically go into my Management folder when an e-mail comes in from those individuals. (In the example above, the “From Amazon.com” is checked. That is who the e-mails are coming from.)
Because I have this folder pinned to my favorites and the e-mails are now going to that folder automatically, I can quickly respond and treat all management e-mails like they are a priority.
Trust me, the last thing you want is for your boss to confront you about an e-mail that he or she sent and need to tell them that you hadn’t seen it yet because it’s buried in your inbox. BIG NO NO!
So, save some face with your boss, weed out the clutter and get organized!!
If you’re interested in some more advanced e-mail organization or you are looking for a step-by-step tutorial on how to set-up your Outlook Rules, I’d love to help! Send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.
She helps managers and entrepreneurs set a solid foundation for business GROWTH to be able to eliminate redundancy in your processes and get yourself set up for OUTSOURCING or hiring employees.
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