Freelancers spend a lot of your time inside of an inbox. Email is more than a part of freelancing – it’s what freelancers use most of the time!
As such, email mastery is very important. Here are seven tips to help you get closer to email expertise. Pay attention: there will be a short quiz and a ninja attack to defend yourself against at the end of the entry.
1. Keep Your Inbox at Empty
Impossible, you say? It’s absolutely doable to get your inbox to display that Zen “you have no messages here” blurb. To do so, we recommend following a few tips.
First, stop using your inbox as a to-do list. When an email comes in that requires action that you don’t want to do right now, you have two options. A: add it to a separate to-do list, or B: put it on your calendar. I use Google Calendar as if I were chemically addicted. Which I probably am.
2. Check Your Email in Batches
How many times have you checked your email since you started working today? One? Ten? Two-hundred and forty-six? Many obsessive email-checkers will look at their inbox once every two to three minutes, and reflexively respond to messages there. Instead of doing this, batch your email processing. Twice per day is usually enough, but more may be appropriate if your business demands such.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Politely Leave Questions Unanswered
If someone asks big questions and aren’t paying you for your answers, be aware that you can politely decline to answer.
If they want you to teach them some fancy concept or answer a complex question, consider referring them to an article, wiki page, or site devoted to the topic.
4. Use Filters, Spam and Otherwise
In order to save yourself time and effort, set up filters in your inbox. Filters can redirect, automatically organize, or otherwise help keep your inbox clean.
Make sure you have a spam filter as part of your email hosting, and consistently report any spam that you receive.
5. Use Labels/Folders for Easy Access
You shouldn’t ever trash any message, but that means you’ll have quite a lot in storage. To make certain that you can retrieve archived messages quickly, use labels and folders to categorize any important contacts you receive.
6. Proofread, or a Ninja Will Kill You
Even if you’re a professional writer, your messages may contain little typos. If you want to leave a professional impression, it’s vital to send messages that don’t contain dumb little errors.
7. Schedule Follow-Ups
If you want to show people you pay attention, add a “follow-up” in your calendar program. When an appropriate amount of time has passed, getting in touch with people will show you as the professional, attentive, proactive person your mother always said you should be.
And now, your quiz. How many tips did this article contain? If you guessed seven, you’re right! Fighting off a ninja will be happening, of course, when you least expect it. Until then, enjoy the increased efficiency of using these simple freelancing email tips.
Photo credit: Mário Tomé