Time is at a premium for every small business owner and, for all its benefits in modern communication, email is one of the major drains on your schedule. If you’re feeling choked by the amount of time you spend dealing with email on a day-to-day basis, try some of these Gmail productivity hacks to give your schedule a new lease of life in 2015.
Customize your email address and harness filters
Did you know that, if you use Gmail, you can customize your existing email address? Whether you have a regular @gmail.com or @company.com address, you can adjust your username depending on who you are giving it to and what you are likely to receive. For example, if your basic address is email@example.com, you could give firstname.lastname@example.org to friends and use email@example.com to invite blog comments.
Combine this feature with Gmail’s native filters to add labels to emails depending on which address they are sent to – so you can keep work and play separate, or file blog comments to deal with at a set time. Don’t want to see Facebook email notifications? Change your profile to use the email address firstname.lastname@example.org and set up a filter to direct those messages to the trash. Your email is compartmentalized and you can see what you need to, when you really need to.
Can frequent responses to save time
Do you get similar email enquiries every day? If you currently pen a fresh reply to each message that arrives, then kick that habit right now and save yourself a heap of time. Gmail’s built in Canned Responses function allows you to store messages that you frequently send so they are ready to use at the touch of a button.
Enable Canned Responses from the Labs tab of the Gmail settings page, then when composing a new message just click the arrow icon in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen and select Canned Responses. From here you can use an existing canned response or add a new one. Then just hit send!
Schedule emails and reminders with Boomerang
The Boomerang add-on, which comes as a web extension for Chrome, Firefox and Safari browsers and as an Android app, enables you to bounce new emails right out of your inbox and schedule their return when it suits you. The emails are stored remotely, freeing you up to concentrate on more urgent tasks.
Likewise, if you need to send one or more emails at a specific time but won’t be at your desk, with Boomerang you can schedule the emails in advance to send automatically when you need them to. You can also put this feature to use to schedule emails to send to yourself that act as task reminders.
Quick question? Chat instead
Don’t underestimate the value of Gmail’s chat system, or Hangouts as it is known in the age of Google+. Save yourself the time spent composing a long-form email, and the back-and-forth of conversation between recipients, by penning a brief chat message when you just need to ask a question.
Chances are too that colleagues will be less daunted by an instant message than an email, and more likely to respond right away than put it off. Hangouts need not be limited to one-to-one conversations – to start a group chat, open a chat with one colleague and then click the stick person icon beneath their name. You’ll see a list of contacts that you can add to the conversation.
Treat your email like a relay race
Of course, the best way to save time on email is to limit the amount of time you spend on it – one great way is by using the browser extension Mail Timer. This nifty add-on allows you to set yourself a maximum amount of time – say two minutes – to respond to each email. After that, a pop-up message will let you know you’re out of time and encourage you to continue to your next message. Not only will Mail Timer train you to be more concise in crafting emails, but it is a great way to get into the habit of swiftly clearing your inbox of messages that only need a brief reply – you can archive others to deal with at a set time (or use Boomerang to bring them back automatically when it suits you).
If you would like to learn more about using Gmail, or any other Google app, please get in touch with us today.