How to Effectively Handle Emails

Sometimes I think the sound of emails coming in is literally what will drive me to total insanity. I get this feeling of urgency, and as if I don’t send a response within the hour, I may hurt my business in some way. But research shows that just isn’t true.

How to Effectively Handle Emails

Here are some pointers for how to successfully  handle emails:

Is a response needed? Before you reply, think: is your response only to say you’ve received the email or “thanks”? Some emails don’t require replies; unnecessary emails encourage more inbox clutter.

“Emails are like rabbits, they reproduce at an exorbitant rate. The more you send, the more you get.” -Simon Sinek {Author of “Start With Why”}

Yup. Agreed 100%.

Put answering emails on your to-do list. Set aside 45 minutes or so to respond to emails. Take a short break. Then move along to other tasks. I answer emails first thing in the morning. It seems each night, my inbox collects letters from around the world and other time zones, so I knock those out first. I then schedule time intermittently throughout the day.

Prioritize replies. Respond to the most pressing first. I often feel I need to respond in the order in which they are received, but I’d say that’s more applicable when calling a help line!

Save articles + videos for later. When you are in your inbox, you should only be doing one thing: answering emails. I know that video of the baby laughing looks funny! But save these bad boys for when you have free time to spare.

24-hour turnaround is optimal. Replying within 24 hours is perfectly responsive enough. Don’t feel you have to respond within moments of receipt. It is true- sometimes issues WILL be resolved without you. Also, give others the same courtesy. I can’t say enough how rude it is to email and then within 24-48 hours, email again to make sure it was received. Don’t be that person.

Use standard responses. Sometimes a standard response is a good thing. You may have a few copy-and-paste type responses, or use something called a text expander. In anyway you choose to do it, if you feel you are writing the same thing one too many times, create a template.

Unsubscribe, Unsubscribe, Unsubscribe! Each and every time I receive a bulk email I care little about, I hit “unsubscribe”. Thankfully, almost all bulk emails include this helpful little link at the end. It only takes a few seconds, and will dramatically reduce your inbox clutter over time. Instead of signing up for email newsletters, I choose to follow on Twitter or like on Facebook to keep up with businesses I’m interested in.

When possible, close down your email and focus elsewhere! Truthfully, closing your email can help reduce the urgency feel to read and respond to others that come in after then.

Original and awesome information source that spurred my article: 99u.com. A truly great read.

Image Editing

Clients often ask me, “Can I make edits to my own graphic files?” Here is a dodgy kind of answer… it depends wholly on your knowledge and skill with image editing programs. However, I have a few suggestions for ways in which you can give your own editing a try!You may, for example, run into an instance where you need a specific size file (ex: 400 pixels wide x 200 pixels). In this case, you will need some form of editing software (or a graphic designer) to resize a file.

If you want to try you own image editing, I recommend several different options:

Pixlr

Pixlr

1. The absolute easiest (and free) route is the online photo editor PIXLR. You can resize and specify pixel size.

Photoshop Elements
2. Adobe Photoshop Elements is around $150. This will allow you do to very minor editing. You can edit use PSE on your iPad or tablet which is pretty incredible.

GIMP, Free image editing software

Gimp (GNU Image Manipulation Program)

3. There is also a free image editing software made to mimic Photoshop called GIMP. I find GIMP a little difficult to navigate because of the complex editing tools provided but I’ve known several clients that quite like GIMP.

Adobe Creative Suite
4. If you want to use the software Graphic Designers use, the Adobe Creative Suite is the appropriate software bundle. Adobe Illustrator will specifically edit EPS and AI files (which is how most logos are created).

With all of these products there is of course a learning curve as there is when tackling any new software before becoming proficient, but if you are up for the challenge, have fun!

RGB vs. CMYK

This is a question I answer on the regular. What is the difference between RGB and CMYK? And what the heck does it mean? RGB (red, green, blue) color is meant for the web; these colors are written using light on screen. Colors often appear very vibrant, saturated and bright in RGB. CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow and black) is built color on paper using 4 colors of ink. Color in CMYK tends to be a bit lighter and less vivid, despite what we might see on the monitor.

RGB and CMYK diagram

If you change an RGB file to CMYK, the colors will shift.

RGB vs CMYK image

Notice the immediate color difference?

To make absolutely sure something prints a specific color, the use of a Pantone-specific color with a professional printer is required.

Pantone Guide 

Pantone Swatch Guide

You have to specify a Pantone color which only certain professional printers can do. Pantone colors are how corporations and big businesses ensure they have the same color throughout (like Facebook Blue, for example.)

The Easiest Way Around This
If you are doing your own printing or having something printed locally, the very best bet is trial and error. If a file prints a little lighter and/or muted, then you edit it on screen to be a bit darker so that it prints a bit darker. You go back and forth until the file prints with colors you like. In the image editing software of your choice, try adjusting the saturation to be a bit higher. Sometimes bumping up the contract  will also yield a brighter printed image.

Are you using a Mac? Colors on a mac screen are WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get). So, you know your monitor is always calibrated correctly and colors appear as they should. If you are using a PC, calibrating your monitor may help.

Keep in mind that the brightness and contrast setting on your monitor will also have an effect on the appearance of color- both Mac and PC.

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