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Email Triage 301

This week’s blog is from Joe Nehila, aka The Man Across the River, founder of NOSOCO, and all round helpful guy. Read on as Joe tames a time killer with some logical (and easy to implement!) strategies.   FYI – The Creative Coast’s blogspot is Savannah’s sounding board for local thinkers, innovators, wanderers and wonders. Guest bloggers share their thoughts, opinions and creative noodling from all over the map…

Oh, hooray, it is 7:00 AM and my work inbox has less than 100 new messages. What’s that iPhone? Are you struggling to load the 15,000 “Unread” messages spread out between a dozen+ email addresses?

Some time ago, I wrote on LinkedIn about silencing my phone during the workday. Occasionally I miss a call, but for the most part it saves me from the ring-a-ding-ding of calls, text messages, and other distractions – like emails. Lots of email. (Yes, yes, I know I can change the sound of just my email to be silent, but why when I can silence all the sounds my cell phone makes trying to insult my clients with its “I’m-more-important-than-you” noises, and distract me from tasks at hand.)

My friend recently commented about too many emails, “aggressive filters, that’s how I keep my number down.” Another swipe deletes not just junk mail, but any mail that they won’t get back to anytime soon, and any whose contents they can deduce from the preview text. Sure, this practice occasionally lands them in some hot water, but they would rather do face-to-face meetings and business on his phone than digital correspondence.

Well, those are the lessons for a 101 blog. Filters. Tags/Folders. Deleting. You are reading this for something more, the journeyman seminar. Here are a few tips from someone who gets too many emails.

1. Role-based Email

Do you HAVE to be the one getting the email? How about mail@ or info@ or hello@ and someone else monitoring that in the office?
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2.  Group Email

What if you have an entire team responding to email? Say goodbye to all those pesky ceo@ emails by having your vice presidents handling them. Or how about sales@ instead of just Todd getting all those emails and using a service to distribute the load or CRM to manage follow-up.
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3.  Delegation

This is more a 201 trick, but did you know most modern systems allow you to delegate your emails to an assignee. They can read your email, respond as you, and keep up to speed on your behalf.
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4. Intra-Office Communication

Our company’s employees averaged 20-60% of all their emails for intra-office communication. “Did you see this?” “Can you get me feedback?” “The client said make this change when you were out to lunch.” Enter – Slack. Now, only a fraction of the back-and-forth is from colleagues. And, best yet, you can invite people from outside your organization.
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5. Ticketing + Software Magic

You may be in an industry where you can use ticket systems to manage workflow and reduce the back-and-forth of emails either from clients or between staff members.
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6. Knowing is ½ the Battle

I like using Gmail Meter for my inbox. We are a Google Apps work environment. Some similar products exist, but this one is very free and very solid. It tells me the volume of my emails, and various trends.
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7. Nifty Add-Ons

There are a number of tools you can use to help with CRM, and also things like getting junk out of your inbox. Yesware is a comprehensive tool some people use, and searching Yesware vs will yield a number of similar products. Boomerang (and there are many others like it) is a more streamlined application – don’t want to see the email for another week, “Boomerang” it back. Gmail/Google Apps has by far the most robust third-party development community though I do have high hopes for Outlook integrating Sunrise, one of my absolute favorite scheduling platforms. I just hope they don’t ruin it…
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8. Inbox Management

Speaking of Gmail, I like the “Priority Inbox” feature. You can alter the way you interact with your inbox online, which impacts how it’s disseminated to clients like your smartphone. Priority Inbox is my favorite, even more than “Inbox” by Google, which can also help to revolutionize your universe if you’ve never seen other programs like it.
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These are just a few tips to try and reduce the clutter. Unsubscribe, delete, and triage my digital friends. Good luck and be sure to send me any of your top tips.

Joe

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