Managing mail madness

Get a handle on it before you get swamped

As if opening your daily pile of snail mail wasn’t enough, now there’s voice mail and e-mail to contend with. While these aid in the smooth transfer of information from one busy professional to another, responding to them demands a lot of extra time-the one thing you simply don’t have. So, it’s no surprise that these modern conveniences are often regarded as major annoyances.

According to a recent survey by the Gallup Organization and the Institute for the Future, American workers receive an average of 178 messages, in various forms, daily. Needless to say, productivity can suffer as employees attempt to process this overwhelming amount of information. So, how do you keep up with your correspondence without losing precious time from work?
The following tips can help you manage your mail efficiently:

  • Leave instructions for callers. On your outgoing voice mail message, encourage callers to state their name, phone number and the basic nature of their call before they go into time-consuming details.
  • Check your messages regularly. Carve out specific, distraction-free times-such as the start and end of the workday-to check them.
  • Use the right tools for the job. Keep a pad and pen within reach to take accurate, organized notes from voice mail messages as soon as you hear them.
  • Prioritize responses. Return urgent voice mail and e-mail messages as soon as possible, if not immediately. For those of a less pressing nature, alert the caller that you have indeed received their message and that you will call or write within 24 hours with an answer or solution.
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