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?