How to Cut Your Email Time in Half

//How to Cut Your Email Time in Half

When you think of email, what comes to mind? Email is essential to work and personal life, yes, but it seems to be a never ending task. As we think of ways to streamline and optimize workflow, especially at law firms, we find ourselves asking a lot of questions about email. How much email is truly necessary? What can lawyers do to cut back on the time spent on email each day? What should our priorities be when it comes to email? If answering these questions appeals to you, we’re here to help.

Here are four ways to cut your email time in half:

1. Use Filters

When it comes to email, filters and labels should be your best friend. They can help you organize incoming messages and determine what’s important to look at in the moment and what can be saved for later. If you use Gmail, they’ll even do some of the sorting for you. Take it a step further by developing detailed work or client folders. If you’re working on a particular case, it’s easy to ignore the other folders and only pay attention to the client you’re serving at that moment. That way, the task at hand gets your full attention, and email doesn’t threaten your focus or success.

2. Set Aside Blocked Times for Email

Have you heard of batching? If you haven’t, today is the day your email life might change forever. Simply put, batching is dedicated specific time blocks each day to working through your inbox. It’s the best way to manage email efficiently, and it keeps you from clicking your inbox every time the number grows. Constantly switching focus from a project to your inbox detracts from the attention you spend on both. Choose two time blocks–perhaps 8-10 or 3-5 pm, to work through new email messages from start to finish. This is a great way to reach “Inbox Zero” and maintain productivity on bigger projects!

3. Employ Tech Tools to Help

There are countless tech tools available that can help you manage email more efficiently. Take Boomerang, for example, an app that allows you to schedule email deployment and reminders. It’s a robust and intuitive tool, so adopting it can take some of the pain out of email obligations. Smokeball helps with email as well; it integrates seamlessly with Outlook to file every piece of client communication in one place. It makes it easy to email clients copies of important documents directly from a centralized location, too.

4. Don’t Put Off Quick Responses

One simple but critical tip for email management is to stop putting things off. That’s right, no more excuses. When you are working in your one or two-hour email time block, don’t put off responses that should be quick and easy. Send a brief, concise response and get one more message out of the way.

What is your law firm doing to make email management more efficient?


By |August 21st, 2014|

About the Author:

For years, Josh has helped lawyers become more organized, productive, and profitable. A trained litigator, Josh came to Smokeball from a large east-coast law firm where his practice focused on franchise, insurance, marine, and general litigation. His work with Smokeball, and his continued passion for what he does each day, is driven by a desire to help lawyers and their staff do better in every way. Knowing well the stress and strain put on today’s legal professional, he regularly focuses on improving work and life in the law. He has traveled the country working with and learning from lawyers and their staff. Josh speaks regularly to bar associations about successful law firm practices and other legal topics. Recent notable engagements have been with the Chicago Bar Association, the Illinois State Bar Association, and the Missouri Bar’s Solo and Small Firm Conference. In addition to his work at Smokeball, Josh serves on the Writing Resource Center staff at The John Marshall Law School. Besides legal technology, his research interests include judicial decision-making, jury decision-making and psychology, and legal writing. He has written and overseen research exploring causal effects of sex/gender on federal appellate court decision-making, and assisted with research for a forthcoming textbook on judicial decision-making. Additionally, Josh sits on the Board of Directors of Chicago-based Community Activism Law Alliance and on the Board of Directors of Chicago Fringe Opera Company. Josh holds his J.D., cum laude, from Washington University in St. Louis, where he served as a Senior Editor of the Wash. U. Law Review, held the prestigious Thompson Coburn Research Fellowship, served as Research Assistant to then-Vice-Dean (now Chancellor) Andrew D. Martin, and clerked at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. He holds a B.A. in Political Science and a B.M. in Music Performance with Honors Scholar distinction from the University of Connecticut, making him a Huskies basketball fan through and through. Follow Josh’s activity on LinkedIn, and keep up with new articles on the Smokeball Blog.