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How to Manage your Overworked Inbox

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Is that overloaded inbox unworkable? Do you wish there was a magical email fairy that would clean it up for you? There are online services that can reduce your stress and get you to inbox zero.

Unroll.me is a service that helps you find all the “subscription-based” emails. It helps you roll them into one email and unsubscribe from the ones you do not want.

Sanebox and Alto are two other services that clean up your inbox by filtering what’s important to you and what isn’t.

What other ways can you use to get to inbox zero?  Here are a few tips to help you better manage your inbox:

  • Set aside a time every day to check and review email.  Email experts suggest a specific time in the morning, a specific time before or after lunch (optional), and then a specific time in the late afternoon. Setting aside a specific time allows you to calendar other important tasks and projects. It also enables your mind to think of email management like an appointment on your calendar rather than an entire day project. Professionals who utilize this logic also suggest newbies (new email managers) set an auto reply (until your internal/external contacts get used to your email management/project schedule) that basically says, “Our office is experiencing a higher volume of workload, therefore, I will be checking my e-mail at 8:00 a.m. and at 3:00 p.m. If you require immediate assistance, please call 555-555-5555.”

  • Establish the 4 D’s Action Model when checking email:
    • Delete (unwanted, unnecessary, and spam emails)
    • Delegate (emails that can be given to an assistant or other staff members in your office)
    • Do (respond to emails that can be taken care of immediately)
    • Delay (emails that you have to complete research prior to responding to or are waiting for a response from other parties)
    • Repeat the cycle often.
  • Use email tools like categories, labels, folders, etc. to help you organize, filter, and find emails.
    • Set up a simple filing system (if you’re able to stay on top of checking your folders). An example folder system might be the 4 D’s (Delete, Delegate, Do, Delay) or Handle Now, Handle Later, Pending Emails, etc. Be sure to also set up your archives folder if you don’t have one (most email management systems do or you just have to turn the feature on if not already established). Law firms might also find it helpful to set up folders by client’s last name, the first name for the organization (or check your practice management system to see what way they suggest or what way works for you best).
    • Set up categories or labels by the type of matter. For example, personal injury, domestic, workers compensation, real estate/transactional, social security, etc.
  • Use rules (if available with your email management software/program) to establish a system for delegation (either by the sender’s email address, subject matter, or recipient’s email address). Depending on the email management system, rules may or may not be able to delegate and send emails for you (research shows this depends on whether the email management software has a timer system established with the rules feature).
  • Use integrated features like Calendar, Tasks, Contacts, etc. to help you organize your other tools you use to set appointments (from email), tasks (from email), save new contacts, etc.
  • If you still want/plan to receive several subscription based emails but don’t want them coming to your inbox, you can use a service like Feedly to manage what blogs/subscription services you want to subscribe to under one tool organized by categories/feeds. You can also use social media tools like Twitter to follow what accounts to subscriptions you are interested in (if they are on Twitter) and read what you want to at your own pace.
  • Encourage staff in your firm to send less email OR to condense email into one or two daily emails (if possible).  This may not be that effective when it comes to specific client matters but this may help reduce general office messages, etc. Consider making morning rounds at 8:30 or whatever time works for you/your firm to meet with team members briefly (you can answer questions for them and reduce your workload).

Do you have questions about a tip above or email management, in general? Email pmap@scbar.org or call (803)799-6653, x. 183 or 118 for assistance.

via @SCBar_PMAP

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