November 12, 2015

Take Control of Your Inbox: 4 Tips to Take Time into Your Own Hands


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You’ve heard the saying, “time is money,” right? But when your day is dictated by your surroundings, it’s hard to translate your efforts into profit. Don’t you think it’s time to take control of your day? We think so…

Here at AcceleratingCFO, we have profit improvement advisors to help make the most of your time and increase your company’s growth potential. We want to help your business develop in the most efficient way possible. And to grow the big picture, you need to get a handle on the small stuff. So write this rule down: in order to increase your profits, you need to capitalize on being productive. Even in the face of distractions.

Distractions are everywhere. But one of the main time sucks is email: checking, responding, filtering messages…you know the drill. Email is more evasive now than ever. And it takes time. A lot of it. But it doesn’t have to. So to help you out, my team and I have compiled the best ways to manage your inbox below.

Turn off to turn on

Work is stressful. And getting live email updates as they come in will only make you more stressed. So turn off those notifications. While you may think that responding in real-time is making you more communicative and efficient, think again. The pop-ups on the side of your screen pull you away from the task at hand, making it even more difficult to finish in a timely manner. So turn off to turn on: step away from your inbox to set yourself up for success. Focus on the urgent tasks at hand and save the small stuff for later.

Set expectations, wait to respond

Listen, responding to people is important, but that doesn’t mean you need to reply two minutes after they have sent something. The best thing to do at the start of any relationship is to set expectations. Give yourself (and your team) a reasonable timeframe to work with. Whether it’s in 2 hours or 24, let your clients, team members, and employees know that you will not respond immediately to a request. Most of the emails we get don’t need real-time updates anyways…they can wait.

Distinguish urgent tasks from those that can wait

But, if something needs to get out the door, have your team use another form of communication to reach you. A simple phone call or an instant message will distinguish between what is urgent and assignments that can be put on the backburner for now. Once they do send along to your inbox, have them mark messages as “FOR REVIEW” or “URGENT” in the subject line. That way, you’ll know what needs to be reviewed and sent out immediately.

Avoid embellishments

And when you do respond? Don’t embellish. Unless you’re pitching something to a potential client (and even then), there is no need to add superfluous language. Check off the basics: Is it urgent? What does the person need from you? Should you make time for a meeting? Ask yourself the five W’s (who, what, where, when, and why). Then add potential dates, times, and location. Hit send.

Having trouble paring things down? Try The Email Game. This computer add-on will help you reduce the time it takes to send an email. You’ll be done before you know it.

As the boss, you need to focus your time on growing your business, not on peripheral tasks. So, take time into your own hands. If you have enough funds, maybe you should consider hiring an assistant that can sift through your inbox and forward the emails that are actually important. In the meantime, take a few tips from our book and wait to respond. You’ll be happy you did.

Are you prepared to handle the biggest challenges faced by business owners?

Don’t get blindsided by problems that other talented leaders have already solved.

We’ve teamed up with Dr. Hector Lozada, Professor of Economics at Seton Hall to survey business owners ranging from start-up founders to seasoned CEOs. What came out of it is a cheat sheet for sidestepping the roadblocks, bottlenecks, and challenges that plague your colleagues and competitors.

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