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Mastering your email

Few innovations have changed the face of our work lives more dramatically than email. For better (and worse), many of us use email all day long. It has become an indispensable communication, productivity and collaboration tool. And yet, the number of Canadians who still tolerate a poor email experience at the office boggles the mind. So enough already! Let’s get you sorted with a handy-dandy checklist to help you and your organization manage your mail masterfully, for once and for all.

1. Separate business from pleasure

Entrepreneurs may love to blend their business and personal lives, but email is another matter. If haven’t already, make sure to set up separate personal and business accounts and use them accordingly. Avoid signing up for personal things with your work email, and vice versa. If you’re an employee, do not use your work account for personal stuff, no matter how convenient it may seem. Protect your privacy!

2. Empty your inbox every day

If you’re one of those people who has 1,235 unread messages in your inbox, you may want to work towards clearing your inbox before you call it a day. Organize and sort your inbox items by project or by person, then go ahead and delete or move emails once you’ve “actioned” them. Get those messages out of your way! When you need an old email, you can just do a quick search for it in Outlook.

3. Check your junk folder once daily

Modern firewalls do a remarkable job of filtering good email from the tsunami of spam out there, but they don’t always work perfectly. Inevitably, an email that you want will inexplicably end up in your junk folder. So try to check your junk folder once per day, just to ensure that nothing you need ends up in there. Also, you can help Outlook gradually reduce spam by flagging any junk mail you might get as junk.

4. Set up your signature

Adding a signature to your messages looks professional and provides recipients with convenient access to your contact info. If your organization doesn’t give you guidelines, just set up your own signature. In Outlook, go to Options>Mail>Signatures. Then click New and format and stylize the text way you like it. Tip: use basic text instead of inserting files (like logos), which often end up as annoying file attachments.

5. Master your Out of Office

If you do not already use Outlook’s handy out of office tool, you should consider doing so. You do not need to bother “the IT guy,” to do it, either. Just go to your Account Settings, then click Automatic Replies. From there, you can use the calendar tool to set up your dates and add a message to help redirect emails you get automatically. Easy.

6. Share security best practices

Cybercriminals routinely use email to breach organizations. Phishing, for example, lures end-users into providing sensitive information, such as credit card numbers. Similarly, clicking on one suspicious attachment can end-up infecting an entire network with a virus or Trojan. To avoid costly and stressful cyberattacks, train your team on what to avoid. Ask your IT team to provide you with helpful resources to share.

7. Explore alternatives

If your team members routinely receive hundreds of emails daily (which happens a lot), you should explore alternatives. For example, instant messaging through a service like Microsoft Teams can dramatically reduce internal email by allowing people to chat and share files on the fly. It also provides a great way to stay connected to employees who work off-site.

8. Move to business-class

You do not have to put up with full inboxes, outages, slow service, “lost” messages or syncing issues. Even a sole proprietor can afford “business-class” email. This class of email gives you a level of security, privacy, reliability and availability that no free, consumer webmail service can rival. What’s more, you can set up your account with your own domain (@yourcompanyname.ca), which looks way more professional than free mail.

9. Upgrade your software

If you’re running an old version of Office, upgrade to Office 365. One cost-effective subscription gives your organization the newest versions of the Office applications that you can run on Windows, Apple® and Android™ devices. When new versions of Office apps come out, you automatically get those with the same subscription. No fuss or muss. Plus, you can also get security-enhanced services in the cloud, like business-class email, data storage and video conferencing.

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