3 Ways to Save Time and Handle Interruptions

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I read a recent article that stated “running a small business isn’t a job; it’s twelve jobs!” Most small business owners wear many hats.  They are the CEO, the marketer, the sales person, the bookkeeper, the social media strategist, the facilities manager and the list goes on and on.  All these things take up time.

I work with multiple small business owners and no matter what tasks I begin helping my clients with, the majority end up having me manage their e-mail because it takes so much time during their day.  A case study conducted by the Danwood Group found it takes 1.5 minutes on average to read and recover from each e-mail. Try these 3 simple tips to lessen the amount of time and interruptions throughout your day:

1. E-Mail can be a To Do List that others can write on.  If we are not careful, we will allow others to dictate our To Do List and how we will spend a big part of our day. Try this:

SCAN your inbox for urgent and important items when you first open your e-mail. Take care of anything urgent.
CLOSE your e-mail.
BLOCK 30-60 minutes on your calendar once or twice later in the day to process your e-mail…when YOU have the time.

2. Turn off your E-mail Notifications.  Turn them off on your phone, tablet and computer. Allowing every e-mail that arrives in your inbox to interrupt your day destroys your productivity. Remember you have set aside some time each day to read and process those e-mails.

3. Use Templates.  Ever find yourself typing the same sentences over and over when writing or responding to e-mails? If so, you should be using templates. Read through your sent mail and see what types of messages you are regularly sending, then put them in e-mail templates.

Time.  You can’t recover it, make up for it or reverse it.  There are 24 hours in a day and 168 in a week and those numbers aren’t changing. What you can change is using your hours more efficiently and wisely by decreasing the amount of time you spend on unimportant interruptions.

headshot2About the Author: Sheri Miller is the Owner of Another You, LLC, a Business Concierge/Personal Assistant service in the Dayton, Ohio area. Sheri helps small business owners save time and money by taking care of their day-to-day administrative tasks. Think of her as your right hand while your left hand is growing your business. http://www.anotheryouerrands.com 937-416-2207

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4 Tips to Help You Manage Your E-Mail

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According to The Radicati Group, business e-mail will account for over 132 billion per day by the end of 2017  The online Tech News, Source Digit,  reports that the average small business receives/sends 116 e-mails per day and it is estimated to rise to 132 per day in 2017.  No matter what tasks I begin helping my clients with, the majority end up having me manage their e-mail. E-mail remains the predominant form of communication in business today and can be a big time-sucker for a busy small business owner.  A full inbox is a problem that can quickly grow worse if you receive a high volume of new messages every day.  Before long, you may find that your inbox has hundreds of messages and you are unable to remember which ones are most urgent.  So what can we do to manage your e-mail?

  1. Enable spam protection in your e-mail settings to reduce the volume of unwanted messages.
  2. Mark the most important messages. Whether you use a star, a flag, a highlighting color, or an icon. You can both manually mark an important message and set others up to be automatically marked in your settings. For example, I set each of my clients up as a Preferred Sender with their own individual symbol. When they send me an e-mail it is automatically marked with their own symbol and stands out among all the other e-mails that I receive. This way my eye is directly drawn to their e-mails first.
  3. Set up a Folder System. This can be as simple as setting up a few folders such as Urgent, Respond, and Waiting or Priority, Non-Priority and Read Later. Depending on your business, you may need to be more elaborate making a folder for each of your Clients, Vendors, Employees, Networking Groups, and Member/Volunteer Associations. Other popular folders among my clients are Leads/Follow-Up, Personal, Industry News, Taxes, Unsubscribe, Finance (invoices due/payments received) and, of course, a Sheri Folder. Create an Archive folder for very old messages that you are unlikely to read again. This allows you to find the messages if needed, while preventing them from making more recent messages difficult to find.
  4. Make E-Mail Templates of “canned” responses when you send the same text over and over again.  Maybe you answer the same question all of the time or you send out the same e-mail multiple times. You could type these responses up each and every time you want to send them out, but you can also write them up once, save them, and use them whenever you need them.

If you are a busy small business owner you do not have the extra 11.2 hours per week that most of us spend reading and answering our e-mails. Try the 4 tips above to save you both time and frustration and remember to only check your e-mails at your predetermined scheduled times during the day.

headshot2About the Author: Sheri Miller is the Owner of Another You, LLC, a Business Concierge/Personal Assistant service in the Dayton, Ohio area. Sheri helps small business owners save time and money by taking care of their day-to-day administrative tasks.             Think of her as your right hand while your left hand is growing your business.     http://www.anotheryouerrands.com     937-416-2207

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Is Anybody Out There?

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Do you answer every e-mail that you receive?  What is your usual e-mail response time?  When people don’t answer your e-mails, how does that make you feel?

Observing proper etiquette for responding to email is an important piece of communications for any small business.  I realize that everyone is busy, but I think it unprofessional when people do not respond to e-mail.   In my opinion, it tells me that what I say or what I need is not important.

It is a good business practice to answer all customer/client e-mails within 24 hours; vendors and acquaintances can wait up to 48, according to a recent survey published in Chron.  I manage e-mails for some of my small business clients and I see how many e-mails they receive during a day.   Believe me when I tell you, a huge amount of today’s business happens via e-mail.

In a recent discussion with 3 other female solopreneurs, I found that we all have very different ideas about e-mail etiquette.  Forty-eight hours would not be acceptable for one of the ladies; she expects a much more timely response.  Another small business owner takes it very personally when she does not receive an e-mail reply in a timely manner.  I think it is important  to remember that we all don’t think alike and our timeline is not necessarily everyone’s timeline.  But in the end, good manners are in order.  With that said, use the simple RATE system to assure professionalism in e-mail.

R-Reply-No Matter What:  24/48 hours is a good response time for most people.

A-Answer All the Questions:  Don’t you hate it when you ask 3 questions and only receive a reply for 2 of them!   Now you have to start the process all over again.  Take time to read your e-mails and respond to all points the sender is trying to make.

T-Tone:  Be careful, tone is hard to read within an e-mail.  Take caution not to interject attitude or sarcasm into your response.  Watch about trying to be funny too, humor can be easy to misinterpret.

E-Emoticons:  Avoid using these when sending or responding to a business e-mail; they tend to make you look unprofessional.

What you write and how you respond to e-mail can be critical to your success.   E-mail etiquette is important for small business owners and their teams.

headshot    About the Author: Sheri Miller is the Owner of Another You, LLC, a Business Concierge service in the Dayton, Ohio area.

Sheri helps small business owners save time and money by taking care of their day-to-day administrative tasks. Think of her as   your right hand while your left hand is growing your business.     http://www.anotheryouerrands.com      937-416-2207