For most businesses, email is the primary method of communication. As convenient as it is, email is also a time sucker, especially for the HR professional sending and receiving 50 or 100 emails every day. We like having a record of our correspondence and being able to do quick searches to pull up attachments, but we know from experience that failure to take control of our inboxes impacts our productivity.
Overcome In-Box Overload: 5 Tips for HR professionals
Provide Clear Guidelines for Email Etiquette
HR professionals often grumble about the excessive use of “cc and “reply all,” yet few actually make the effort to establish email-etiquette guidelines with their staff. Ironically, you might start by sending out a mass email outlining necessary and superfluous email activity. If this doesn’t work, try setting up a half hour, company-wide training and development meeting.
Disable automatic alerts
Now that you’ve established clear email-etiquette guidelines with your staff, it’s time to assess your own habits. One of the first things we recommend is that you disable the automatic-alert system. Before doing this, we were constantly distracted by a pop-up window and an accompanying chime. And like Pavlov’s subject, we’d find ourselves instinctively browsing our email box.
Make email templates
If you find yourself sending the same email—company/project updates, answers to frequently asked questions—save some time by creating a template. You may not be able to reuse all of the copy, but you’ll at least be able to cut and paste key sentences and phrases into a new email.
Delete is your friend
Does the email you just received require any action? Do you need to reread it? If not, get rid of it immediately.
Use the “mark as unread” option for emails that require action; create folders for those that don’t
We used to have a horrible habit of reading emails that required us to do something: reread, respond, or take action. When we didn’t have time to follow through, we would leave the email in our inbox, but never “mark it as unread.” As a result, unimportant emails were mixed in with the important ones. Disaster. Always use the “mark as unread” option.
You may also receive emails that require action—but not right away. If that is the case, move it to a folder and do this by the end of the day. If you’re worried that you’ll forget about it, remind yourself by scheduling a calendar event.