For most accountants and bookkeepers, email is unavoidable. You need it to liaise with staff and your clients on a daily, and sometimes hourly, basis. While it’s a practical work tool that helps everyone get the job done, it can also be a serious distraction. It can slow down your productivity and make otherwise competent workers feel overwhelmed. In order to better manage your workload, here are five ways to improve your email productivity.
1. Don’t check your emails until you’re on the clock
Everyone knows it’s important to have boundaries to create a better work-life balance. While many strive to manage the amount of time that they spend physically at work, they still check their emails around the clock. If you want to start being more productive with your email habits, don’t let checking your work emails become the first thing you do each morning – and the last thing you do at night. Learn to switch off when you’re not at work and limit how many times you check your emails outside of work hours.
2. Unsubscribe from any unnecessary mailing lists
The last thing you need is more emails flying into your inbox. If you have signed up to mailing lists on a whim and you really don’t read the emails, unsubscribe from the list entirely. Don’t just open and delete each email as it comes. If there are lists that you don’t want to break up with entirely, learn how to set rules and have them land directly in a sub-folder. That way you can read them when you get a chance but you don’t have them clogging up your inbox each day.
3. Check your email at regular intervals
It’s very easy to get into the habit of checking your emails every single time you get a notification – which basically means all day, every day. Instead, consider blocking out certain times across the day to purposefully check your emails. It could be taking a look first thing in the morning, before lunch, after lunch and before you head home for the day. Consider turning off email notifications and letting staff know if they need something urgently from you, to use your internal chat system or rock up to your desk in person.
4. Only reply to urgent emails straight away
Try delaying your email response time. Of course there will be times when you need to reply to emails instantly, however, most of the time your emails can probably wait. The faster you reply, the higher the expectation of your colleagues or clients will be. While it may seem counter-initiative to delay your responses, just waiting a few hours or a day can help to create some healthy boundaries and keep you focussed on the task at hand.
5. Pick up the phone
Instead of going back and forth all day via email, sometimes it’s easier and more efficient to simply pick up the phone. It seems that email is now the go-to way to communicate with staff and clients, but if there is something particular that needs discussing, it can be way more productive to avoid email all together and make a call instead. If you’re worried about getting things in writing, you can simply craft a summary email after the phone call for your reference.