How much time do you spend on email everyday? 3 years ago, when I first asked myself this question I was spending 8+ hours per week reading and responding to email. Yesterday I successfully completed a whole month -YEP, thirty days without responding to email.
How would your business change if you could only respond to emails once per month? After just thirty days I’ve found that my productivity has gone up almost 50%. I’ve been able to focus on the most important aspects of my business while creating systems to take care of the more “operational” stuff.
I’ll tell you where the major time gain is— but I guess I should explain what exactly a “Time Gain” is….
Like I said, three years ago I was spending 8 hours per week on email. That’s 32 hours per month. Last month I only spent 2 hours on email – because I only did it once —- I gained 30 hours in that month (with three years of practice.)
Anyways, back to the first major “Time Gain” you’ll experience if you dare to try this death defying act at home. When you check your email less you tend to miss those fires—you know, the fires people at work create to make themselves feel important. These people and their fires are called “time wasters.”
Some tips to check email less
I figured I should share some tips with you daredevils that want to play along at home, so I’ll give you some basics in this post and we can always add to it later.
- Use Google Docs – You can collaborate in real time on spreadsheets, documents, and presentations. Everything is online so you don’t need to email documents back and forth.
- Schedule Response time for email– When you first start out maybe you want to cut down to checking once or twice per day. As soon as you’re comfortable with that make the move to even less- like only checking every other day. Just keep chopping off days as you can.
- Use an autoresponder – Most email programs have a vacation responder, so use it. Let people know that you got their email and you’ll be responding soon. My first autoresponder was quite cheesy, it went something like- “Hey there, just wanted to let you know I got your email. I’m out of the office right now, but I’ll be responding around 12pm today, thanks!”—–that’s when I was checking once per day.
- Create an FAQ– There’s no doubt if you’ve been asked something once, you’ve been asked it a million times in your business–right? The easiest way to put together an FAQ for your business is to create a file in your emails named “FAQ” then save all the questions you get for that business in that file. —-That way you can link to the FAQ on your autoresponder signature.
- Use Project Management Software– How many times have you “lost” an email? I don’t even know where the things disappear to, but at one time or another all of us have lost an email. Working by email is sloppy, that’s why I recommend using PM Software like Basecamp to manage anything important to your business. –the conversations are all in one place along with the files so nothing gets “lost.” (BTW- loosing things is a HUGE “timewaster.”)
- Use Gmail– While Gmail has a bunch of great features, my favorite is the new priority inbox. This tool prioritizes your emails by which ones you are most likely to open and respond to. The best part is that you can train it so it gets smarter. I’ve been using it for 6 weeks now and I don’t think I can ever go back to regular email.
How do you value your time?
How do you put a value on your time? I usually take the hours I have in a deal and divide them by the money I make from that deal. This post is not just about getting rid of email – because I’m sure you’re saying, “That works for you, but it won’t for me.”
That’s fine – but think about the things you do day to day that eat up your time – how can you get rid of them? While this case may be extreme, I’m betting there are a lot of things in your business that you could get off your plate to be more successful.
What are some of the things that take up too much of your time? Leave a comment below and I’ll share a few suggestions on how to get rid of those time wasters.