I'm a designer who started off with just 'designing' as a freelancer working alone.
As my business grew, work started pouring in & I hired people. Soon, before I knew it, I found myself spending a lot of my time on administrative & managerial work, a big part of which was reading & replying to emails everyday.
A month ago, I started streamlining all my activities so I could make more time for designing - be it custom designs for clients or digital products to sell on my store.
As a part of this optimizing process, I carefully looked into how much time I was spending going through my inbox and how much of it is unnecessary.
1. Unsubscribe. Unsubscribe. Unsubscribe.
The first thing I did was find all the advertising and other newsletters in my inbox - newsletters that I'd either never subscribed to or subscribed to at the time but didn't need anymore - and clicked on the 'Unsubsribe' button in their footer thereby removing myself from their mailing list.
To my surprise, I found that almost 90% of the subscriptions were just junk. And even though I didn't realize it earlier, receiving these emails and either checking them or marking them as 'read' without checking them was significantly eating up my time.
2. Delete Unwanted Emails
Today, with lots and lots of space available (than a decade ago) I tend to read my emails and then just leave them there. I think I got into this habit after I started using Gmail - they promised Unlimited Space - remember? However, whether you use Gmail or not, trust me, you WILL run out of space if you never delete an email! It happened to me and then I had to go through 1000s of emails to see which ones to delete so I can empty some space for new communication.
3. Set a Time
You need to set a specific time to go through your daily emails and respond. For me, this time is in the morning right after I reach work. I first go through all my new emails, reply where needed and mark the ones which I need to reply to later in the day.
4. Get Organized
Create folders to organize your emails. For example, I have folders like 'Clients', 'Society6' etc. Microsoft Outlook, Gmail and most other email programs also let you create rules where you can tell the program to automatically move existing as well as new email you will receive from say your customer named 'Peter' to the folder named 'Client'. This really helps keep track of your emails and threads so you save time when looking for a particular detail mentioned in a specific email from someone.
Got some of your own tips to add?