Message overload is a significant drain on productivity. Email and other communications can overwhelm everyone on staff at a law firm. Contact us today to learn more about email management for lawyers.
To increase efficiency, firms need to confront the centrality of email. Ongoing, focused, and deliberate email maintenance is the key to managing the vast array of information that comes through email.
Three Biggest Problems with Email Management for Lawyers
Email platforms spit messages at us all day, every day. This bombardment causes three main problems that reduce productivity: overloaded inboxes, a tendency to over-check email, and, most of all, the lack of differentiation in importance.
Email management for lawyers is key to productivity. Excessive email in staff inboxes costs firms money. Even worse, it can lead to legal errors. Too many messages equal:
- Higher stress
- Frustrated colleagues
- Discouraged clients
- Legal mistakes and malpractice
- Lost revenue
To reduce the volume and the associated problems, you need to start with a different mindset. Plan to send less to get less in response. Reduce courtesy emails, for instance. Unsubscribe and block messages from unnecessary sources.
Investigate to see who the top offenders are when it comes to excessive email. Tactfully educate them on the benefits of reduced email message volume.
Over-Checking and Over-Responding to Email
Every time a staff member stops what they are doing to check email, they lose precious time. They also lose focus. Then they lose more time regaining that focus. Set limits for communication. Unless you are waiting on urgent information, set established times to check email and avoid the temptation to look at other times.
Efficient handling of email and communication channels does not always mean that everyone needs to dash out an immediate detailed answer to every message. Often you save time in the long run by acknowledging a request but promising to research the question and provide an answer within a certain timeframe. This minimizes the disruptions and allows time to formulate an effective answer.
Obviously, some email messages are much more important than others. You can start increasing efficiency by taking advantage of filters to move certain types of messages automatically. Maybe you check those once a day.
Set up subfolders for staff, clients, newsletters, and personal information. Then you can use rules to automatically mark specific messages as important, flag messages for follow-up, reply with a specific template, send an alert, move it to a specific folder, or take other actions.
Improve the Quality of Email Messages in Your Firm
You can’t control messages that come from outside the firm. But for internal issues, there are several steps you can take to improve the quality of messages to allow for faster organization and response times.
Steps to include the quality of your emails can include:
- Using specific subject lines in a format that packs information into a short space
- Starting with the most important information in the text block, much like a journalist would approach a news story.
- Format body text to avoid large blocks of text. When a text block is more than two or three lines, people tend to skim or even skip over it.
By formatting messages more effectively, you can ensure that important information is seen first.
Ongoing Maintenance is Critical
It is a good idea to set up a “must-reply” folder. But you also need to devote regular time to email clean-up. If you’ve got old messages in your must-reply folder, you may miss critical messages that still require work. Archive older messages as well as those concerning issues that you have closed.
Contact Our Lawyer Coaches Today for Help
Get the additional support you need with email management to be a more productive lawyer with time management. Contact us by phone or online for a free consultation.