Between teams to manage and clients to handle, they can’t afford, not to be on top of their inbox, but how do they do it all?
It may seem incoherent, but it’s true. Having your inbox in check does not mean spending close to no time or half your day on emails. It actually means having a set amount of time dedicated to it. No more, no less, no distractions.
It has actually been proven that checking your emails only 3 times a day reduces your stress levels and helps you feel productive. What best to be a good manager and dedicated leader than to have less stress and a motivated productivity feeling?
The most efficient and common schedule would be checking your inbox as you arrive in the morning, after lunch and before leaving the office, but it’s just a recommendation, your schedule should meet your needs. What really matters is for you to limit the number of time you check your inbox, and that once you are on it, you set a length of time to stay on it and spend this time dedicated to getting things done.
Spending 1 hour on your inbox 3 times a day may seem like a lot, but you would actually be spending only half the time the average worker usually spends on emails in a day.
If you spend little time on it though it must be really neat and ordered. You cannot afford to spend half your time struggling to see what is important what is not, looking through a maze of unopened emails with no classification system. Great managers are usually pretty organized that is the only way they can keep an eye on everything happening.
So you, like them, need a system, we are talking labels/folders, stars, and carefully set reminders. That way in the morning you can snooze emails which can be dealt with later today, so that they won’t be forgotten. Flag emails which may need research or an action to be taken on before being answered and deal with anything urgent.
A good manager is efficient on both sides of the conversations, that means sent emails are also carefully thought out and organized. You can label outgoing email as they are sent to keep track of the whole conversation or set automatic follow-ups to never again forget about an email if it is left unanswered.
Good managers are on the path to be great leaders, and the only way to get there is to learn how to delegate very early on. This applies to work in general but is also relevant to emails. No one can be expected to be efficiently managing if they are elbow deep in emails refusing to acknowledge that some things may be dealt by others.
The 4D rule of email management is applied by many leaders; an email can be dealt with, delegated, deferred or deleted. It may not be easy at first but if someone has more expertise, could deal with an email quicker or is just more relevant to the matter at hand then it makes sense to send it their way.
Your inbox may not seem properly set up for delegation as we have all heard of forwarding and reply-all incidents, but additional tools might help you. You shouldn’t be wasting precious time where technology could provide a solution, use email assignment to help you send out delegated emails. That way you keep track of the conversation and others can send work your way as well. Collaboration is a two-way street.
Speaking of collaboration, some emails need team members to help each other out on without actually needing to be delegated. Even great managers sometimes need help from others regarding a client request or a deadline. When the team workload has been properly distributed, you need each other to finish things.
A good manager also needs to be kept in the loop and give his thoughts on projects at different times. To reduce email ping-pong, lengthy conversation threads and just save time, it is sometimes easier to take it out of the email.
That’s when you need your inbox to be efficient and hold more than one tool to communicate. Private notes, can allow managers and team members to give thoughts, add info and exchange quickly on the side of an email conversation.
You can also handle task related emails if you get an integrated task management system. Remember the flagged up email that required some action to be performed before it could be answered? With a task management board, you would be able to add any email to a visual to-do list, give them due dates, set priorities and most importantly share the board and ask for help from team members.
Even outgoing emails can be collaborated on when you have the option to compose them together and keep them as templates or just share your best performing emails as templates. This way, everyone is kept in the loop and has up to date info.
It may not all seem easy at first, but with a schedule, some organisation and good collaborative tools you will have all you need to be on top of your inbox and as efficient as any great managers.