Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Your Freelance Translation Business and Coping with Email Overload

If you’re struggling with email overload and wondering why on earth it takes so long to get through what should be a relatively simple task, then you’re certainly not alone. Checking emails and responding to them (even if it simply means deleting them) takes time; valuable time out of your busy schedule.

Today, it seems that most of us suffer from email overload, so here are some tips on how to reconfigure your email set-up. The sources of our email are almost too many to count – there’s email from our family and friends of course, but we also receive emails from professional groups we belong to, our social media sites, not to mention accounts requiring payment, travel sites, one hour translation reviews, and others too numerous to mention.

So, let’s get started!  To begin with we need to create a better method for dealing with our email; plus we must have the right mindset about an email that lands in our Inbox. If checking our email means that we delete the majority of emails at first glance, then it means we need to start by filtering and unsubscribing from unwanted emails. This is something we should do on a regular basis because our need for emails we subscribe to is always changing, so we must adjust to these changes. For example: if we’re planning a cruise then we may subscribe to various travel emails which are pertinent to our up-coming trip; however, once the trip is over these emails may no longer be required, so it’s time to go through your Inbox again and work out what’s wanted and what’s not. Do this by checking each email and assigning it to one of the following categories –

·         This is important email: I need to read it the moment it arrives. This will usually be messages from either colleagues or clients;
·         This email is not so urgent: I’ll read it later, but it’s not important. Maybe an email newsletter or a group you belong to; or
·         This should be deleted: I’m not interested!

The emails that fit into the second category can be filtered to bypass your Inbox. If you use Gmail you can create labels, which means that you can bypass the Inbox when you label something: you don’t need to see that message until the time comes when you choose to. If an email fits into the third category you should unsubscribe from it – it’s the only way to reduce your email volume. Following these three points will cut your inbox volume down by around 60%.

The second part of the email equation is the concept of emails. The only way to really reduce the amount of time spent on emails is to answer messages straight away. This may not work if an email requires specific research or thought before replying; however, it will work with the majority of emails. Generally, emails should be processed instead of simply being read. An effective method of dealing with emails is the ‘one touch method’, meaning that you only touch an email once – you deal with it or you delete it – but either way it’s taken care of once and for all. It’s a great concept!

We would love to hear your thoughts on how you cope with email overload. If you have any specific strategies that work and would like to share these with your fellow translators, then we’d certainly love to hear from you.

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