Inbox Overwhelm … maybe not

January 28, 2015

Emails.  Love them or hate them, they are a (big) part of our day.  Overwhelmed?

I was on the phone today with a business owner I have a lot of time for (he’s awesome!!), talking about how his business had grown and how busy he was.  We both just want more hours in the day, as I’m sure, do you.  The discussion moved onto time challenges and what a huge part of our days emails are, he’s happy if his Inbox is under 70 … that would do my head in!!  How many emails are in your inbox right now?

Overwhelm

Over the past 18 months as I’ve worked hard to manage how I spend my days (in terms of client ‘work’ vs unbillable time such as emails, phone calls, project management, upskilling and working on my business).  My inbox in particular has come under the spotlight as I can easily spend 6 hours responding to emails on any given day.  I clear my inbox … dance a little jig and watta you know, in half an hour its repopulated itself.  I’ve looked at responding to emails at certain times a day and closing Outlook in between, using rules to manage emails, prioritising and sorting emails into appropriate folders .. but the thing is, if I don’t constantly respond to emails I miss urgent requests from clients, questions from contractors as they are working on tasks, client’s changing tasks we are working on … in a nutshell, not checking emails regularly leads to my holding up jobs or going ahead with a job that may have changed.

So, I took a step back and thought about what my goal is.  Excellent customer service is right up there and not replying to emails quickly will not help me achieve this.

The final solution

Having the luxury of a pretty wonderful team of contractors, 80% of client tasks are be delegated to my team.  They do the work at a high standard, on time and without interruptions.  This gives me more time to build relationships with my clients and deliver customer service, communication is a huge part of that.  I’ve moved email management to the top of my priorities and in doing so removed the frustration of thinking I should be doing client work rather than managing my inbox.

So my question to you is, what’s your priority?  Response time or mimimising time?  There is a balance between the two but which way do your scales tip?

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