Managing your emails effectively can sometimes feel like a full-time job in itself – it can take up a huge part of your day – time when you are being unproductive and diverted away from the work you actually need to be doing to fulfil your role as a business analyst.
Fortunately you can learn how to be more organised as a business analyst, but you will have to take responsibility for this yourself because only you can effect a change. So let’s look at how to reduce the amount of time you spend in your inbox and how to maintain focus on what really needs to be done.
Establish Email Time Slots
One of the simplest ways to avoid being distracted by emails is to allocate specific time slots for checking your inbox and dealing with any important emails. First thing in the morning is a good time and then once or twice more in the late morning and mid-afternoon (when there is still time to respond to anything urgent). Schedule times that work for you and stick to them; and make sure colleagues know that you will respond in due course but not necessarily immediately.
Respond As Soon As Possible
Remember that it is unlikely that an immediate response is absolutely necessary for a particular email – after all if it was that urgent someone would pick up the phone or come and talk to you in person. That said, it is useful to deal quickly with emails where possible so that they don’t mount up in your inbox.
Respond to important emails as soon as you can – if any email is likely to take more than a couple of days to respond to (say, if you have to produce a report or amend project documentation) then reply to the sender to let them know so that they understand when to expect a full response.
Organisation, Organisation, Organisation
Managing emails effectively is next to impossible without an organised system. Flag emails as important (if they are not already) and create sub-folders to help you organise them more appropriately. Being able to filter through the emails from different people and teams is essential to being able to work efficiently and not waste time in your email system.
You should know which are the really important emails at a glance – a request from the project manager or major stakeholder may be your top priority whereas an email from a colleague in a different location who is not involved in your current project may have to take a back seat.
Clear the junk!
In order to have a productive inbox do not subscribe to lots of different newsletters with your main work email address. Consider using a secondary email address for items that will just be of interest but are not essential to your role as a business analyst. If you don’t need something for your day-to-day work either unsubscribe altogether or have them sent to a separate email account. If you haven’t read something for a month or more then bin it. Distractions are the enemy of productivity.