I’m taking a short break from blogging until I’ve done something about the staggering amount of unanswered emails in my inbox :o) I’m telling ya, it is totally getting out of hand…
In the meantime I could really use your ideas: How can I make answering all those emails fun? How can I do it in a way that will make me happy? Any and all ideas are welcome- just write a comment.
I’ve already thought of one thing I’ll do: I’ll post the current number of unanswered emails right here. Right now the count stands at:
202 unanswered mails (10:30 PM, Aug. 14)
214 unanswered mails (8:15 AM, Aug. 15) – Yikes, that’s what I get for going to bed :o)
172 unanswered mails (10:01 AM, Aug. 15)
100 unanswered mails (11:10 AM, Aug. 15) (WOO-HOO!)
67 unanswered mails (11:57 AM, Aug. 15)
43 unanswered mails (2:22 PM, Aug. 15)
17 unanswered mails (3:23 PM, Aug. 15)
5 unanswered mails (3:34 PM, Aug. 15)
0 unanswered mails (3:50 PM, Aug. 15) WOOOO-HOOOOOOOOO!!!
Phew, I made it. Tomorrow I’ll be posting on my strategy and on what tips I used or didn’t use.
And please don’t let this post hold you back from sending me email – I would LOVE to hear from you. And my inbox suddenly looks so… barren :o)
14 thoughts on “E-mailing – not blogging”
You can refuse to answer e-mails from boring and angry people ;)
Random replies. Like “thank you for coming in to get your hair cut today, I hope you enjoy the new you,” and “give my best to Alice”
Being an eternal optimizer and having worked full-time answering support emails for a while I would say the most enjoyable way is to collect template snippets and make answering emails with these snippets a sport.
Find an email-program (I like The Bat!) that allows you to add these snippets with keyboard shortcuts. Then start with snippets like
Alt-H: Hello %NAME,
Shft-Alt-H: Hi %NAME,
Ctrl-Alt-H: Dear Mr./Mrs. %LAST_NAME,
Alt-A: I apologize for taking so long answering your email.
Ctrl-Alt-A: I am really sorry for taking so incredibly long answering your email. I promise I won’t do it again!
Alt-S: Kind Regards, My Name
Shift-Alt-S: Greetz, yours truly!
And keep on going. Don’t forget to also include the longer explanations you find yourself giving repeatedly. I used to enjoy writing many little articles answering questions people hadn’t even thought of asking as well.
I eventually got to the point where I could answer virtually all emails in 30 seconds or so. To keep it fun I recommend editing them to include some personal touches or jokes though.
They are to email-fu what you are to happy-fu.
The best cure for this disease is the phone! I have tried everything – I’ve banned emails, allowing only those with attachements everything! But the cure is to talk to them – use the fone – go to their office and say hi. Be bold suggest that they come see you next time as you never really get a chance to read your emails.
Every time you answer an email, put some change in a jar on your desk. Even if it’s just a penny or a quarter. When you start running out, scavenge through drawers, if you’re home, the couch, random cubbie holes, etc. Then, when you’re finished, count whatever you came up with and go buy yourself a present!
Set a start and end time for this activity so that you are working fast. Turn on your favorite music and race to get through them:
– Sort by from/sender first
– Read your most important contact’s emails. If there are multiple under one subject, sort by subject – read the latest one and delete the rest. Go back to reading through by sender.
– Delete as many as you can based on the subject line, considering the “sender” of course (this is the fun part – deleting!). If it is really important and you don’t reply, people will contact you.
– Create a folder called “to read” and file as many as you can in there, read when you have more time (only high interest reading)
– For ones that require you to do something – act on them as you read so they don’t sit in your inbox. If you can’t act immediately, file or delete now – create a folder called “action” and file it there. Put time on your calendar to work through the “action” folder.
Reward yourself when you are done!
Before you try Kristin’s good advice above… You can declare “email bankruptcy” -send out an email to everyone in your inbox informing them you had a computer crash and lost all your messages and if there was anything important they should resend it. Devious, but this surprisingly cuts my inbox in half as a lot of email sent to me is not that important.
Thanks for all the great tips people. I’ll be trying some of them out and report back here how it goes!!
Further to Michael’s suggestion, there’s a great video by Merlin on 43 Folders which brings it down to the real basics. Best hour I spent in quite a while.
Dharmaboost have adopted a cool email policy that limits the number of sentences any response or fresh email should contain.
They say “Treat all email responses like SMS text messages, using a set number of letters per response. Since it
I agree with scott’s suggestion about the phone. At least in using the phone, we can’t get too busy with several calls coming in altogether. Instead, phone calls wait until we are free to receive them.