6 Tips to Be Mobile and Be Smart: How to Effectively Manage Email on Your Mobile Device
It’s 3:09 pm. Hungry, restless, maybe just done for the day, you’re in desperate need of a break from meetings, conference calls, you name it. So, you decide to check your email on your mobile device. That innocent need to keep your inbox under control is plagued by the thought of the time it will take not only to read the emails, but also to respond to, file, organize, or maybe just remember not to forget to do all the aforementioned when you’ve got more time. It’s a lot to think about.
I get it.
Here are six go-to strategies to help you manage your email effortlessly on your mobile device saving you time, attention, and energy, so you can use all three on life beyond the mobile.
1. Mobile email management is part of a broader email management strategy.
Managing email on mobile should be part of your personal, larger email management strategy.
It is one piece of the email strategy puzzle that allows you to maintain connectivity from almost anywhere in the world, allowing you to work from virtually anywhere – which is a blessing and a curse.
I do not recommend managing email on your mobile device as your primary email management strategy. You have very limited functionality on a mobile device and cannot really optimize your email management with only this tool. Your mobile device is ideal for quick responses, urgent requests, or acknowledgements of receipt.
If an email is urgent and demands your attention now, acknowledge the email and then follow up with either a phone call or longer email from your primary computer to handle or resolve the issue.
2. Read and respond to incoming messages.
We have all done it. You are standing in line waiting for coffee, you just peek at your email, and then before you can even finish reading the email, it is your turn to order. You place your order and quickly forget what only a few minutes ago you were reading. Now you have to go back and re-read that email message, either on your phone or later when you return to your office. Re-reading emails, even on mobile devices when we think we are being efficient, actually wastes significant amounts of time.
Let’s say that you receive 100 emails per day and it takes you approximately one minute to read those emails. It will take you one hour and forty minutes to read those emails. Now, if you do nothing with those messages you must come back and re-read them. At this point, you have now invested over three hours of your time on the same 100 messages! Cut your email time investment in half. Read and respond to incoming messages on your mobile phone.
If the action required takes longer than 2-3 minutes, create a folder labeled EMAIL TASKS (for directions on how to add folders and other ideas see #4 below) and move the message to this folder. When you are back at your computer, open this folder first in your email application and execute on these items. If the action required needs to be handled by someone else on your team, forward the message to them. If the message does not require action by you, either delete it immediately or file it in the appropriate file folder. Take action on your incoming messages and save a few hours this week.
3. Screen and cull incoming messages using the rules feature.
There are too many messages to manage on a screen the size of your palm. The design of our phones sets us up for inefficiency and overwhelm. So, take back control by thoughtfully and strategically screening all incoming messages using the rules feature in your email program. By using rules you can filter out the messages where you are CC:ed, are FYIs, are newsletters, blogs or company newsletters that you can read at a later date. Setting up new rules must be done from your primary computer. Your goal is to open your email on your mobile device and only see the current, relevant messages that actually require a response by you.
4. Use folders to get your work done and stay organized.
Folders are an essential component of your mobile email management strategy. Create email folders that actually help you stay organized and get your work done. Consider setting up folders based on the type of action you need to take on email messages.
• Urgent Reply
• To Do or Tasks
• Follow Up
To set up new email folders in iPhone Mail (in an IMAP or Exchange account):
• Go to the folders list for the desired account in iPhone Mail.
• Tap Edit.
• Now tap New Mailbox in the bottom right corner.
• Type the desired name for the new folder over Name.
• To pick a different parent folder:
• Tap the account under Mailbox Location.
• Now tap the desired parent folder.
• Tap Save.
• Finally, tap Done to the top right.
Note that you cannot add custom folders to POP accounts in iOS Mail.
When you receive an email message on your phone that requires action, move it to the appropriate folder. Now, when you return to your primary computer and open your email application, your messages have been sorted by your next action step, saving you hours of precious time.
Once you have set up your action folders, organize them on your desktop (this will be mirrored on your mobile device) based on priority. Use numbers and symbols in front of your folder names to build a customized, prioritized folder list. You want your most frequently accessed folders at the top of your folder list for easy access.
5. Create a dedicated mobile email signature.
Use your mobile email signature as both a gatekeeper and a scapegoat.
By including an email signature in your messages you let the recipient know that this is a response from a mobile device helping you manage their expectations regarding your response and you give yourself an excuse for any fat finger typos that are so common on mobile devices. Here are just a few examples to consider:
• Speedy reply mobile #
• Quick mobile response
• Please excuse any typos. This is a quick mobile response.
• From my mobile
• Mobile reply
6. Remember why you have email on your mobile device.
As much as we like to think it’s about work or deadlines or staying on top of things, having email on our phones is really about connecting with people.
Your email on your phone allows you to maintain connectivity to not only your work, but also your friends, your family, your life. Remember that your mobile device is a connection tool.
This will help you maintain perspective even when your inbox is blowing up.
If used well, managing email on your mobile device will decrease the amount of time you spend overall managing your email.
Get started today designing a mobile email management strategy that works for you. Invest a few minutes to set up your system, and you’ll be amazed at the time you now have to enjoy life beyond your mobile device.