For today’s lawyer, time is perhaps the most precious commodity. That is why we at Infoware have designed our legal practice management software to save legal professionals up to 49 minutes a day. While legal document automation has advanced the way lawyers create custom legal documents, there are still many other time wasting activities that serve as a plague to every law office in the country.
The truth is, every task we do has the opportunity to be made more efficient. Emailing is the number one form of communication among lawyers, and also one of the biggest time wasters. According to a Huffington post survey, workers in the U.S. spend an average of 6.3 hours a day checking email. Even though email has been around for decades, we haven’t been able to become efficient at it.
If you are sick of seeing 200 unread email notifications and mundane office memos being marked as urgent, you need to become a champion of an emailing strategy. That’s why we put together a list of ways you can start reducing your time spent in your email inbox today.
In order to start managing your inbox effectively, you first need to purge all non-essential emails. Unsubscribe to those non-relevant newsletters and turn off Facebook and Twitter email notifications. After dealing with an overwhelming number of email notifications, getting off to a fresh start with zero unread emails looks and feels great.
2. Handle Emails Once
Skimming emails and then coming back to them a second time is a huge time waster but it is also easy to become a victim of hundreds of unread emails. After reading an email, get into the habit of filing it, flag it, mark it as read, or delete it to ensure your inbox doesn’t become overwhelming.
Pro Tip: You can easily click once on a flag to generate a “red” flag. This not only marks the email for future reference but tags it in your “To Do” list. If you right click on the flag, you can then prioritize it and even add a reminder!
3. Keep personal and work emails separate
Many use their work email for personal matters. There are a couple of reasons why this isn’t considered best practice. Just ask Hillary Clinton. Many companies are able to review their employees emails for one. Additionally, when personal emails combine with work emails in your inbox, the total number of unread emails becomes all the more daunting.
4. Improve overall communication
People in your office wouldn’t be sending several emails to each other if there weren’t proper protocols in place. If Meredith doesn’t know who has the right authority to sign off on her legal document, she could ask several people before she finds the right person. When communication coming from the top is ambiguous, your coworkers will be left with far more questions to ask and likely more emails to send.
5. Email organization
Every client is important, but some projects are more pressing than others. When we’re expecting an important email, we will end up checking our inbox every time we get a notification. This process can not only become time-consuming, but annoying as well.
When you take the time to sort and prioritize your email inbox, you can choose to get notifications from specific clients, and mute certain notifications like office memos and other less-urgent emails.
Setting up Rules and Creating folders for specific email topics or senders is a fast way to file newsletters, client emails, and other electronic correspondence. Just remember to review each folder for unread messages. If there is a number following a folder name, that indicates the number of unread messages in that folder.
Pro Tip: Outlook offers great ways to save time. Did you know that you can drag and drop a contact name onto your Inbox Icon to create an email to the contact person? Or even better, if you receive an email with details about your upcoming meeting, you can drag and drop the email onto your calendar icon to copy the contents of that email into a calendar entry. All you have to do is put in the correct date and time and you have all the email information copied in the calendar entry where you really need it.
6. Email smarter
In many instances, several back-and-forth emails can be replaced by one. For example, after a long meeting, some co workers may go on to the next project with a completely different interpretation of what was discussed. When the note taker sends a definitive rundown email after the meeting your coworkers will be more likely to get on the same page, resulting in many emails trying to figure out what was discussed. Taking the time to send clearer and more detailed emails, can limit the amount of emails your have to responds
7. Try more face-to-face & over the phone
While these options aren’t always the most practical choice, it can be the most effective in certain situations. When emails start going back-and-forth, it can become very time-consuming. In most cases, a simple discussion with the coworker across from you or a quick phone call could save some valuable time.
8. Schedule email time
When we’re constantly checking and responding to emails, projects that take one hour can easily take three. By either devoting certain parts of the day to answering emails, or turning off emails altogether when doing tasks, you can focus and expect time spent on things like drafting legal documents and conducting research, to be far more effective.
Pro Tip: Turn off email notifications as they can become distracting when trying to focus on other tasks. We suggest reviewing your Mail Options and turning off your notifications to avoid the lure of that new email arriving in your inbox every 5 minutes.
For more helpful insight into how today’s lawyers are increasing productivity with new technology trends, time saving tips like the ones offered in this article, and streamlined legal practice management software, keep up-to-date with the Infoware blog.