Email is a part of our daily lives. Many would argue that it’s impossible to conduct business today without using email. I think that’s especially true in the security industry.

It’s estimated that the average businessperson deals with 121 emails per day. That’s a lot of email.

Too many salespeople waste too much time with email. They become slaves to the inbox and allow it to dictate their behaviors and actions.

Because I want you to be as productive as possible and because I see many people mismanaging their use of email, I offer my eight top tips for being more productive with email.

Schedule email time. You don’t wash individual dishes each time you use one, you wait until the dishwasher is full to run it. Email should work the same way. Unless you have to monitor email constantly for mission-critical activities, your best bet is to schedule one or two times to handle email throughout the day.  

Keep your email program closed throughout your work day. Leaving your inbox open is a temptation to deal with email all day long, distracting you from the important parts of running your business. Leave email closed and only open it when you plan on dealing with it.

Don’t do email first thing. Too many people open their email as their first activity of the work day, only to spot a “crisis” that causes them to abandon their plan in pursuit of the latest “fire.” We suggest opening your email only after your most important task of the work day has already been accomplished, giving you the best chance of having positive impacts on your business.

Touch it once. Avoid reading your email and saving it for later action (I need to practice what I preach here). Open it, read it, act on it and throw it away. Nothing saps the life out of productivity more than e-procrastination.

Don’t do folder overload. I really like using rules (see below) to sort email into subjects. But the more folders and incoming distribution rules you have, the more complicated the process. Keep your use of folders simple. Remember that most email management systems only search one folder at a time.

Use filters. Use your spam filters to get rid of unnecessary email. Use rules to move incoming mail into specific project folders. A big help in this area is to establish rules for professional correspondence (publications and trade associations), placing all incoming email into its own folder for when you have the time to read them later.

Use the delayed feature. Have you ever seen a string of emails going back and forth, one right after the other? They might as well have used instant messaging instead of email, don’t you think? Or how about the client who calls you at 9:30 p.m. because you just sent them an email? The easy way around this situation is to use your email scheduling feature to go out at one time during the day, no matter when you write them.

Colors, man, use the colors. Most email messaging management systems allow you to use colors to designate incoming items. I find color-coding quite useful in managing my inbox.

Proper use of email allows you to focus your time on driving business results. 

Look at your current behaviors, look at these tips and see where you have room to improve. Put these practices into your daily routine with email and I promise you’ll get more done and feel better along the way.