You've got MORE mail :-(

The other evening I watched the old 90's film "You've Got Mail" for probably the 3rd or 4th time.

It takes us back to an era of dial-up broadband, when getting email was exciting.  Nowadays we have too much of it and we can drown under the size of our inboxes.  And with so many emails flying about, often just "for your information", its difficult to keep track, find time to read them and know what to do with them.

That's why today I thought I'd mention messaging software.  

Many of us will be familiar with Facebook Messenger or use What's App but probably you're only using them for personal conversations with friends.  But think how much easier it is to keep a track of the conversation when it's all in one place.  And if there's a group of you chatting it's easy to keep up, even if you've been offline for while.  And your personal inbox is probably getting used less and less - if you want to organise a night-out you just all hop onto your chosen social messaging platform and get it sorted quickly and easily.

So why aren't we doing the same in our businesses?

If you have teams that need to converse over projects or stay in touch about customers and day-to-day business issues, just think how much easier it would be if you were using a messaging platform where you could easily catch-up on the whole conversation, even when you've been in a meeting for half a day.

Just think how much lighter your email inbox would be without hundreds of update emails popping in every week!

Luckily, there are a few apps out there that provide this very service for businesses.

Flowdock is one that I use with some of my customers and it allows you to have a number of different group conversations going on (Flows) as well as 121 conversations, so you can manage the communication for a variety of projects or customers all in one place.

I also use Teamwork Chat with my team as it's part of the project management software that I use and it has the same functionality as Flowdock.

Slack is another popular messaging service but I haven't ever used this one so I can't comment, although as far as I'm aware it has the same functionality I've just described.  

Another bonus is that many of these pieces of software integrate (either directly or through IFTT or Zapier) with project management tools such as Trello, so you really can keep everything out of your inbox.

I love to hear if/how you're using messaging software in your business and which ones.  

P.S.  If your inbox is still filling up and taking over your day, you could always splash out a whole £37 on my 'Tame Your Email' course.

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I'm afraid I can't talk to you today

I'm sure you've all received out-of-office / automatic replies to your emails - you send an email to someone and instantly an email comes back telling you they're out of the office until XX.

These messages help manage expectations when you're not around to respond to messages promptly and they can also give alternative contact details or a link to a FAQ page where answers to common questions can be found.

We live in a time when instant access to people and information is expected but it puts a lot of pressure onto a business owner and their team to always be available to everyone and in the end, to give quality service, you can't be instantly available at all times or you never get a chance to do whatever the job is you're supposed to be doing.

To allow yourself some time and space, particularly if you're out of the office for a meeting/event or on holiday, it's good to decide before hand how often you are going to check your email or if someone else will be dealing with enquiries/support during that time. When you know what the plan is, you simply need to tell everyone else and an automatic response to an email is just the thing. Here's a quick video to show you how to set up an Out Of Office response in Outlook and Gmail.


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Who’s in charge in your office?

Hands up if your desk is hardly visible under a pile of paperwork …

OK, we’re in the electronic age so you may have got away with that one, so hands up if your email inbox has more than 20 emails in it …

If you are still firmly sitting on your hands, you can have a gold star and get on with your work as you clearly don’t need the top tips I’m about to give to the rest of us who have what can only be described as ‘not-so-organised chaos’ going on in our office.

#1 Have plenty of stackable trays

I have numerous R-Kive Desk-top Sorters stacked on top of each other and on shelves to help organise my paperwork and stationery. I have trays for each different type of work waiting to be actioned. I also have my different papers and envelopes, labels, etc in trays so they are easily accessible and I can label them so I can tell my 80gm paper from my 120gm paper in an instant.

#2 Set up folders and rules to manage your incoming email

Outlook, Gmail and I’m sure most other email clients, allow you to set up rules to manage your incoming email. You can set up folders in your inbox for different types of messages – different customers, different types of work, etc – and then set up rules that automatically kick emails from certain people or to certain email addresses or with a particular word or phrase in the subject line, into the correct folder. That way you don’t have to wade through tens or hundreds of emails to find the one you are looking for and you can manage your time better by setting aside time to deal with certain issues and only having to look at those emails during that period.

#3 Use a cloud-based email client

Whether it’s Gmail, Yahoo, Microsoft Office 365 or another, having an email system that is cloud-based means that you only have to deal with messages once – if you delete them on one device, they are gone from another when you log on there; if you respond to a message, the response to accessible from another device when you log on there. It saves loads of time both in dealing with your daily messages and also in hunting for the response you know you’ve sent but you just can’t remember whether it was from your phone or your laptop.

I know there are several techniques out there that people use to keep on top of their incoming mail and deal with it all on the day it arrives, so I’d love to hear from you if you have a system that’s working really well for you.


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