According to The Radicati Group, in 2013 the majority of worldwide email traffic came from business email, which accounted for over 100 billion emails sent and received per day (that's about 55% of all emails sent/received per day). This is expected to grow by 8% to more than 108 billion sent and received per day in 2014. By 2017, business email will account for 132 billion emails sent and received per day (64% of all daily emails sent/received worldwide).
With all of that being said, it's safe to say that your inbox won't be clearing up anytime soon. If you're an insurance agent, I can probably safely assume that you're fighting a constant and never-ending battle with your inbox. You're communicating with clients, prospects, carrier reps, office staff, etc. all day via email. Your inbox has become a to-do list on top of your real to-do list.
Some productivity experts suggest turning on an auto-responder and only checking your email once per day. This isn't a good habit to get into in the insurance industry. Clients and prospects want a responsive agent who is there for them right now. If you're not responsive to their needs they'll simply find a new agent. So, how can you be responsive to email and still be productive in your day?
Since there's no magic button in Outlook or Gmail to slow down your inbox, I put together some ideas for managing it more efficiently and effectively.
- Set up an email-checking schedule.
Choose 3-4 times per day to check your email and stick to these times. Twice in the morning and twice in the afternoon should suffice in order to give a timely response. There's no need to look at your email every time an email enters your inbox.
- Set up time to not check email.
Each day look at your to-do list and pick a time that you will set aside to not be distracted by email. Use this time to tackle your real to-do list.
- Don't turn your inbox into a to-do list.
Marking emails as unread or starring them will only distract you. Everytime you look at your inbox you'll re-read those emails. Delegate them appropriately right away. There's more about setting filters and Outlook Rules in the video below.
- Avoid email chat.
During your scheduled email-checking time, go offline and only send responses. During you next email-checking time you can read replies and respond again. Email is not the same as instant messaging. Treat them differently.
- Delete first.
The first time you open your email every day scan through your inbox and delete those that you know you're not going to read. They will only distract you throughout the day and cause your inbox to grow. If you find yourself consistely deleting the same emails, unsubscribe from them!
Steve Anderson is the leading authority on insurance agency productivity, technology and profits. His webinar, "Cool Tools, Gadgets, and Gizmos to Improve Productivty" spends the first 10 minutes on the topic of email. Check out his tips on mastering Outlook and changing your habits:
View the Full Webinar Here
I hope these ideas, tips, and tricks will help you gain some time in your day and become more productive. What are some other tips and tricks that you use to tame your email? Share your ideas below in the comments section and if you found this to be helpful, please share it with others!