Mondays are productivity days at SimpleProductivity blog.
For many of us, email is a major form of communication. Between personal and work email, many of us can receive hundreds of messages a day! Many of those emails require a quick response, and some of them request the same information over and over. In this latest installment about automating life, I want to share how I handle these types of email.
Knowing What You Send
For those who respond to a lot of emails, you can probably classify those emails into groups. There might be a “thanks but no thanks” category, a “please get back to me with more details” or “here is the information you requested.” In my case, I have responses for reviews, responses for “please look at my article at promote it”, and guest post requests. In order to figure out what you send out, take a few days and make notes of the general types of items you respond to.
Deciding On The Responses
Once you know what you are responding to over and over, you can figure out how you need to respond. Examples: For my review requests, I only use a standard reply when I am saying no. The reasons for me saying no are that I don’t have time or I am not interested. The “no time” response also has a clause that I might be interested at some point in the future when I have the time. For the guest post, I have the following scenarios:
- A guest post request that comes in through the comments: this means the person hasn’t read the guest posting page and needs to be directed to that page.
- A guest post request that comes through to the right address, but doesn’t have an article: this means the person hasn’t read the guest posting page, and needs to be redirected there.
- A guest post that has an article, but it’s not in the right format: this gets responded to with directions on how to put it in the right format.
I was able to craft the generic responses by examining all the times that I responded to the scenarios. By removing the particulars, I could make it generic. Instead of saying “Your book, ‘The Joy of Mousetraps'” I could substitute “Your book”.
Once the responses are written, it is just a matter of setting up the automation. The degree of automation will change depending on the software you use. As much as I hate to admit it, Outlook has the other software beat for total automation (and if I am wrong, please tell me!!!!!). You can filter incoming messages for certain criteria, and then send back responses completely automatically. Add a bit of programming in, and you can do amazing things. Unfortunately, with the blog, I use GMail, so that I can get all my mail in one place and I can access it from anywhere. Using the Labs Canned Responses, I have set up basic responses, but I still have to choose one for each incoming email. I use filters to push the emails that require a certain response into separate labels. From there it is easy enough to send out the same response to everything in that folder. It saves a lot of time, but it is not fully automated.
Tips: Include A Disclaimer
One thing that I make sure to include is a disclaimer saying that the response was automatically generated. I feel that it is the right thing to do, but I have never heard any feedback on that clause one way or another. I feel it is just a nicer way to let people know it is a canned message.
By creating automatic responses and using basic filtering and responses, I cut my email time down significantly. Do you automate your email? How? Share below.
Photo by GoodNCrazy