December 27, 2019

Resolution: Better Manage Your Emails

Time Management and Your Inbox

To help elected officials and city staffers develop an approach to being more productive, time management is critical. Knowing what is important and urgent, important and not urgent, not important but urgent, or not important and not urgent.

Here are several tips to help you get better control of your valuable time by simply working on your in-box:

1. Determine what type of email is important to you, set filters to knock out the clutter.
2. Turn off the email alert to reduce distractions.
3. Set certain time(s) of the day to check email and stick to the schedule.
4. If you can take action on an e-mail in less than one minute, do it immediately.
5. Keep emails short and to the point.
6. You may can use templates as a basis for some responses and then tailor it to each specific situation. Check this site for free downloadable e-mail templates.
7. Hit delete if you know an email isn’t important. Or, if you may need to refer to it, send it to the archives or save on your hard drive.
8. Mark messages as a reminder of those you need to reply to if you must do research before you can reply.
9. Mark e-mail messages “read” that aren’t time sensitive and will require a block of time to go over. Schedule a time when you can read these messages.
10. Mark messages “waiting” when you’re waiting for a response. This will remind you to follow up if the person doesn’t get back to you within a certain time frame.
11. Take advantage of the subject line – it’s the most important part of your e-mail. Make the subject line meaningful.
12. Write an intriguing subject line. It doesn’t have to be a cliffhanger – just a question or phrase that will pique the reader’s interest.For example: Can you help me find a solution to this? or 2 ideas for meeting the project deadline.
13. For content heavy emails, use a summary with bullet points; be clear and concise.
14. If your message is urgent, make sure you write that in the subject line. Another option for urgent information is to skip the e-mail and use the telephone.
15. Write “no need to respond” in emails that do not require a response.

Note: Never send an e-mail when:

  • It’ll take you longer than five minutes to read and reply (turn it into a phone call)
  • The message is emotional or controversial
  • You’re feeling rushed You haven’t had a timely reply from your first message, or
  • You need more info before you can feel sure of your response.