The average business person gets 122 emails a day and lawyers are no exception. In fact, they get more emails and those emails are critical. They mean life or death, sink or swim, married or single to their clients.

Email is a thorn in the side of the modern entrepreneur. We can’t live without it but we can’t really live with it.  The average person checks their email between 3-15 times a day!!  That feels low to me given how often peole check their phone. How about you?

You are losing billable hours when you devote so much time to email. We talked about context switching before.  You know that every time you check email you lose at least 20 minutes.  Even more, if you stop what you were doing to respond to the email.

Track your time spent on email

What gets measured get managed. Track how much time you spend on email each day.  You might be surprised (or horrified).  

Gmail Time Tracker for Chrome will tell you how much time you spend reading emails. Now you know exactly how much time you can bill on emails.  Sweet!

Email Stopwatch can help you out with the same data if you’re a Microsoft user for a small fee ($9/mo)

If you want a general overview of what programs you spend the most time with online, then try Rescue Time. I recommend it to clients all the time. It has a free version that’s very useful. But get the very affordable paid version ($4.50/mo) because you can block those sites where you tend to waste time (cough– looking at your Facebook and Instagram)

Manage your email

Now that you know how much time email is stealing from your schedule, it’s time to take action.  Manage your email instead of having it manage you.  There’s a very popular concept of ‘inbox zero’ where every day you get down to no emails.  I like the idea but just don’t think it’s practical to maintain.  The stress of trying to keep your inbox clear won’t be worth it, in my humble opinion.

Instead, use automation to manage your inbox. Stay focused on the emails that truly need your attention instead of jumping at every alert.

By the way, turn off the notifications.  You don’t need them. Having them on wastes your energy because some part of your mind is working hard not to miss the next notification.

Zero is a new email app that caters to lawyers. They say their mission is to increase productivity and security when lawyers interact with email. I haven’t used them but the AI interface looks promising.

Fun extras for your email

Email doesn’t have to be all work and no play, you know.  Create a fun email signature that shows your face and gives easy access to your social outlets with Wisestamp. I used to link to my freebie using Wisestamp and I probably will again in the near future.

Boomerang has gotten to be my favorite email app. Why?  I tend to get to my inbox later in the day and sometimes into the evening. I don’t want to send the wrong impression to clients that they should expect me to be working 24/7.  Boomerang allows me to work on emails late into the night if necessary and schedule them to go out during work hours.  No more,”what were you doing up at that hour?’ You can also track when emails are opened and clicked which is very helpful, too.

Hire a Virtual Assistant

If your email is really at Def Con 10 status, it might be time to bring in help.  You can hire a virtual assistant to sort and manage email for you.  

I know colleagues who use a VA to manage their email and send them the most important emails on a daily basis.  The spam and other responses are taken care of by the VA.  You can do this too, although you’ll need to develop a project legend to help the VA understand your current system and how to respond.  But the 2.5 hours you would regain would be worth it. 

Tell me in the comments, how are you managing your email?  How many hours would you regain in billable time if you had a system?


DLE
DLE

Dina Lynch Eisenberg, JD, is the CEO of OutsourceEasier.com, an outsourcing training/consulting firm for successful lawyers and entrepreneurs based in Oakland, CA.

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