I’m Drowning in Emails – Get Me Out Of Here

| General

I’m Drowning in Emails – GET ME OUT OF HERE!

Put yourself in the position of somebody has just started their dream legal job. And…they all lived happily ever after…comes to mind. However, the dream job can soon turn into a nightmare.

Why Is This?

Many people start a role, have an induction, be introduced to their new workmates and the relevant systems used by the organisation. However, some candidates overlook a key factor for success. They suddenly become inundated by thousands of emails received into a seemingly out-of-control inbox. These can be from the highest level of the firm to fellow colleagues.

So How Can Lawyers Take Back Control?

Many lawyers struggle when faced with an apparent email avalanche. However, it is important not to panic and recognise that they are all in the same boat. One strategy to be considered is categorising the emails in order of priority and proceeding to answer the emails appropriately.

Which Emails Should I Answer First?

This question is crucial and depends upon which are the most pressing. One method to assess the importance of such emails is to allocate numbers from one to eight to a selection of emails in order of urgency and deal with the correspondence starting with the highest priority matters first. There may be several options available to efficiently deal with an email. Examples of such actions may consist of (but are not limited to):

  • Responding to queries,
  • Taking further instructions
  • Communicating via a telephone call
  • Liaising with more senior colleague or
  • Acting as instructed.

Lawyers should be assessing which email types to prioritise. For example, a colleague’s correspondence arranging a night out is less pressing than correspondence received from a client. Another example a document needing to be executed in time for close of play is far more pressing than a draft contract which needs to be marked-up with changes.

What Other Strategies Can Be Employed To Avoid a Dreaded Deluge?

It may assist lawyers to assign an email to a particular folder relating to a certain category such as a client, matter or another party. This depends on the lawyers’ personal preference and style. Some lawyers prefer a simpler filing system. One idea is to create files with tasks due to be completed, more pressing emails, those with tight deadlines, those providing client updates and producing attendance notes. A file can also be created containing those tasks which need reviewing, chasing or investigating further including those matters which cannot progress without further information, awaiting further instructions or a signature.

Another folder which may also be created is one containing lower priority matters. These are those non-urgent tasks to be dealt with when there is time available. Examples of items that should be put into this folder are emails containing newsletters, updates and longer-term projects. Allocating a separate folder for these low priority emails will make it easier for lawyers to distinguish them from the most important and higher priority emails.

However, a proportion of lawyers are creative in the use of their email folders. They often organise such correspondence into:

  • Matters requiring work
  • Files awaiting a response
  • Clients and interested parties needing to be chased
  • Tasks which have been assigned to another internal team or colleague
  • Those relating to upcoming or previous meetings

Time management is key to managing an unruly email inbox. The above strategies are only a small step. However, employing them may ensure that lawyers are better prepared and organised for the role. It will assist them to have carrying out their job duties efficiently, promptly, and meticulously.

The Legists Content Team

ASSESSING FIRMS

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THE ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN USING THE FOLLOWING SOURCES 

[1] Babajide, C – How to ace the inbox challenge – 22 March 2022 - Christianah Babajide - How to ace the inbox challenge - LCN Says (lawcareers.net)

[2] Squillace, M – 10 Ways to Manage Your Email Inbox – According to People who get 100+ emails a Day – The Muse - 10 Easy Ways to Manage Your Email Inbox | The Muse

[3] Mindtools – Managing Email Effectively – Strategies for Taming Your Inbox - Managing Email Effectively - Time Management Training From Mind Tools

[4] Mindtools – Is This a “Morning” Task? – Scheduling Important Activities for the Right Time of Day - Is This a Morning Task? - Scheduling Important Activities for the Right Time of Day - Time Management Training from MindTools.com

[5] Sylvester, R – Real Simple – 4th March 2021 – 12 Smart Habits to Help You Manage Your Email Inbox for Good - How to Manage Your Email Inbox for Good: An Exhaustive Guide | Real Simple

[6] Plumber, Matt – How to Spend Way Less Time on Email Every Day – Harvard Business Review - 22 January 2019 - How to Spend Way Less Time on Email Every Day (hbr.org)

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