Don’t be alarmed, but I have something to tell you. You should probably take a seat..
No, Daniel Craig hasn’t died (thank god).
So, here it goes.
You spend 13 hours a week checking your emails.
Based on the assumption that you work from 9 – 5, and can’t resist taking a peak at your inbox on the weekends, you spend 28% of every day checking and responding to emails.
Which adds up to 13 hours a week…
Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it?
Basically, you’re spending so much time in your inbox that you might as well bring a sleeping bag and set up camp for the night.
Now it’s probably safe to say you’re not literally sitting in front of your laptop answering emails for 13 hours straight once a week.
Of course you’re not, because that would be a huge waste of time, as well as dangerously boring.
Those 13 hours are made up of literally hundreds of distracted conversations, usually taking place in between tasks or when you’re meant to be focusing on something else.
Or first thing in the morning, because we’re all guilty of the early morning, half asleep email scroll…
But did you know that by checking that inbox first thing in the morning, you’re setting yourself up for a 30% less productive work day?
Who knew, right?
The thing about email inboxes is that once you click on the little, innocent looking notification that pops up on your screen, you’re at risk of getting sucked into a timewasting vortex…
This is what I refer to as a reactive business — one in which time is spent randomly on fluffy tasks and emails that just come up, instead of focusing on productive, business growing activities.
So what’s the best way to stop yourself becoming a slave to your inbox?
1. Schedule it in
To avoid falling down the rabbit hole into the inbox abyss, develop some discipline…
Just as you make it a priority to be on time for your appointments and ensure meetings don’t run over, your email checking habits need to be timed and monitored.
For run of the mill, non critical emails (general enquiries, booking receipts, invoicing) in your primary inbox, schedule yourself short time slots to fire off responses and clean things up.
I swear by this — I check my inboxes at precisely 11am and 3pm every day, for only 30 minutes at a time.
Not enough time to get through your titanic-sized inbox, you say?
Take a second to think about how your inbox got that way to begin with…
More often than not, it’s through sporadic short stints of replying haphazardly as opposed to focused, dedicated and productive blocks of time getting stuff done.
Give it a try.
Trust me, not only will it change the way you use email, but also the quality of communication you’ll deliver.
2. Divide and Conquer
Create a separate email account for urgent enquiries…
The email tracking your latest online shopping purchase is not urgent. However, email enquiries from new leads are.
As for existing clients?
Nothing is so urgent it can’t wait for 2 – 3 hours, so save your replies to those questions for your allocated email time slots.
By redirecting the emails that are super critical for your business to your separate account, you can respond quickly without compromising your productivity… or a potential customer!
3. Fight temptation
Desktop email notifications can seem pretty harmless…
Honestly, they actually seem quite helpful at times, like a friend tapping you on the shoulder when you drop your purse.
But that’s how they trick you, luring you away from DOING in your business to waste time randomly clicking through emails.
Makes sense, doesn’t it?
The simple fix: turn off your email notifications…
As in, go into your computer settings and manually turn them off.
I tried it, and I haven’t opened a single email in the last hour. True story.
4. Inbox Management
Got more inboxes than George Clooney has ex-girlfriends?
There is literally a program or software out there to solve every kind of problem you could think of, including multiple inbox management…
Allow us to introduce Help Scout.
So what is it?
- An all-star multitasking program, Help Scout allows you and your team to manage multiple inboxes and client conversations.
- Delegate emails to various team members to handle (e.g. allocate new lead enquiries to sales, existing client questions to customer support, invoices and payslips to accounting).
- Clearly view and track which client conversations are active and still require further attention across multiple inboxes, and which are done and dusted.
- Build a company people will love through providing a delightful and thorough customer experience.
Pretty awesome, right?
At grace lever.com, we use Help Scout to successfully manage our multiple inboxes, and provide our customers with helpful and friendly information that actually answers their questions — shock horror!
All of our team members have certain inboxes or types of enquiries they are responsible for, making sure no important emails slip through the cracks.
By sticking to the inbox rules, you can claim back those 13 hours in your week.
Imagine all the things you could do in 13 hours!
Watch an entire season of your favourite TV series…
Read a book cover to cover…
Play with your kids or connect with your partner…
Or you could invest those 13 hours back into your business productively…
The possibilities are endless.
For more entrepreneurial tips and tricks, join us at our upcoming Doing Day in your city. Meet myself and the team, and map out your business plan for 2016!
All images via GraceLever.com