We all use email in our work – it’s an indispensable part of our operations and, truthfully, we couldn’t do what we do as efficiently without it. But, there are times when email becomes a huge monster that prevents us from getting any work done and can be the cause of many frustrations. One travel agent I know gets so much supplier email that her client email would easily get lost in the inbox maelstrom if she didn’t practice good email management. Here are four strong tips for fighting and taming the email monster!
Connect to your Smartphone – It’s no secret that agents without a smartphone are being left out in the cold. One benefit to having a smartphone is accessing email. You can download an app that will connect to your specific email service and allow you to perform many of the same functions you normally would when accessing your email at the office.
You will want to use the IMAP option if it is provided to you. This copies your actions between your phone and your email account. For example, you receive an email from someone and respond to it via your phone. Later, at the office, you log into your email and you have a copy of that original email AND your reply to it already in your account. Also, by using IMAP, you have access to your email folders. You will also want to play around with your email settings both on the phone and on the account itself to filter non-essential emails so they do not download to your phone. For me, I filter out all supplier email from my phone, so only emails from clients and colleagues are downloaded. All other email remains on my email server for me to check later.
Close the Email Program – If you’re anything like me, you have your email program up and running the entire time you are in the office, and are able to check your emails as they come in and respond accordingly. It works for me, but if you find this to be a hindrance to getting work done and sucking away your productive time, consider only checking your email at certain hours of the day. One travel professional I know checks his email twice a day, at 11 AM and again at 4 PM.
Use Filters or Rules – A lot of people do not use the full features of their email program, whether it’s an online-based account or a program like Microsoft Outlook. One frequently under-used feature is filters (called Rules in Outlook). Filters allow you to set up instructions for how to categorize your email. You can set up a filter for all emails from a specific client go into a client-named folder, or to shunt all supplier emails to a promotions folder. It’s a great way to cut down on the non-priority email so you can get back to it later and not worry you’re missing anything time-sensitive or important.
Work As You Read – This is the one that is hardest for me, personally, but when I follow it I really notice a difference. When you read an email, decide right then what you will do with it. Delete it? File it in a folder? Respond to it? Don’t move on to the next email and leave it to respond to later, because you will likely forget it’s there. The idea is to clear your inbox as much as possible one email at a time.
How do you successfully manage your email? Please comment below and share your email management tips with us.
Steve Cousino, ACC, CTA, LS is a six-year industry veteran and owner of Exclusive Events At Sea and Journeys By Steve, based in Springfield, MO. In addition to producing special events on board cruise ships, he specializes in escorted tours of Europe and the Holy Land and culinary-themed travel. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit his websites at http://www.JourneysBySteve.com and http://www.ExclusiveEventsAtSea.com.