Self Help: Improve your Outlook…

For most a New Year’s Resolution is all about self-improvement and if you want to keep that going long into the year you don’t need to look much further than your office PC. Small changes and new habits can soon add up and have a massive effect on how easy it is for you to manage your workload.

Here are four small things to consider when using emails and managing your mailbox. These simple changes will help improve your time and effectiveness at the office.

1. Organise and reduce the size of your mailbox

Quite simply a smaller mailbox is easier to manage by both yourself and the computer; the fewer mails you have the less likely you will have trouble finding the content you need. When clearing out emails you don’t need to be heavy-handed, deleting large chunks of mails as you go. Instead create meaningful folder structures to get a large amount of mails out of your main inbox in a way that still means something to you. Storing mails from Company A Ltd to the same location each time means you can find what you want quickly.

Mailbox grown to an unmanageable size? That same folder structure can be replicated outside of your main mailbox in a Personal Mail Store, better known a as PST. These can be safely stowed away, out of the main mailbox, for when you need to refer back to them.

Don’t archive everything or you are just moving the problem to a different location. Do delete emails you don’t need. A simple reply of ‘thanks’ doesn’t need to be kept if you’ve safely filed away the previous correspondence. Old newsletters you probably didn’t look at when they arrived don’t need to be stored away, the offers will have expired, the news old – just delete them.

With a clearer mailbox it is now easier to see what is coming in and what you’re working on at that moment in time.

2. Email links not files

Another way to reduce the size of your mailbox is to look at the content of the mails you’re sending. If you take a file from the network, make some changes and then email that to a colleague, you now have a copy of that file living in your sent items. If further changes are made and the file is sent back to you, you now have a copy in your sent items and your inbox. You can see how over time this can easily grow to be unmanageable.

Attachments can be stripped out, saved to the network and the original mail deleted but you now have two files on the network, the original and the edited emailed version. You would think the easy thing to do would be to delete the original version but what if a third person has been making changes? We now have two versions of the file to consider and a number of users confused about which file contains their data.

To avoid the above scenario it is far easier to email either a link to the file or its location on the network. This reduces space in your mailbox, limits the chance of duplicate files and every user knows they are working with the current data.

3. Use meaningful subjects

Now your mailbox is a little tidier it would be best to make sure that what remains is a little more meaningful. A list of 30+ mails with the subject “RE:” is no good to anyone if you’re looking for one particular mail. Putting in a subject, even if it is just a single word, will make it easier to navigate your inbox and to understand at a glance what remains. Colleagues will thank you as they can then immediately tell if something requires their immediate attention.

This is not to say all subjects are created equal. Limit your use of words and phrases that demand an urgent response such as “Urgent”, “Immediate Action Required” and “Quick, Help!” as such demands become less effective when used repeatedly – save those subjects for the genuine emergencies.

Don’t be afraid to change the subject. If you’ve pulled out some old emails or if the conversation has drifted to another point, change that subject to reflect this. Using an old unrelated subject is almost as bad as using no subject.

4. Consider your CC usage

With your mailbox now cleaner and more manageable, this is your chance to do your bit and help your colleagues. After the initial introduction or point is made, and subsequent replies are “thanks” or move onto other topics, question whether original recipients need to be included in that CC list.

An inbox full of content that one needs to read to be sure there isn’t any salient information can be worse than an inbox full of sales orientated newsletters. If you’ve been CC’d on those emails then it must be for a reason, right? Every email now needs to be read to be sure of the content before ultimately deciding they’re irrelevant and deleting them.

Help to reduce the number of mails in a colleague’s inbox and you will be helping them keep their own mailbox manageable.

And if they need further help managing their mailbox, why not send them this article (with a meaningful subject)? 🙂

For any help or advice on this topic, please do give us a call on 0118 9767111.

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