playing with children

Emails and the school run

“You can always tell when the father dressed them…” the number of times I’ve heard that expression.. Sometimes followed by a friendly smile, usually.  So what does it mean as a statement? Personally I find it very patronizing but I’m sure that this is not the intention most of the time.

Maybe I spent too much time thinking about business and work in the mornings, before sending her off to school. I should have made the rule for myself “No work before the school run…” focus on your main task. But sadly I didn’t make that rule. I wish I had. Not because her hair would have been any shinier (although it may well have been) but because it was a missed opportunity for the two of us to spend quality time and maybe we missed it a bit.

There’s ‘being there’ .. are you actually THERE with your child or merely in the same room. If you are thinking about work, writing an email, ‘researching’ Social Media or any of the other manifestations we call ‘work-related’… then you are NOT with your child, merely in the same space. You are inhabiting different intellectual landscapes and hence you can only share the experience of ‘being together and alone at the same time.’ Which in itself can be a very pleasant experience, but not that interactive visceral experience of parenting that maybe you feel you don’t get enough of.

Making more time

So that you have more time to dress your child properly or just ‘be there’, as a ‘stay at home worker parent’ you desperately need to get on top of how you deal with emails. I thought this would be such a good thing to talk about this week as we’re currently reworking our emailing system for the umpteenth time (more on that later)

Obviously every business is different when it comes to its use of emails, but I think a fairly simple rule can be applied. If you are spending large amounts of time writing emails to your clients, make sure that you are being paid for the job. By this I mean, don’t undervalue your time… It’s easy to think that your time isn’t so precious. IT IS, you only have this one life as far as we know and your time is as valuable as anyone else’s. Particularly when its time that is being traded as a parent. This childhood will be over so quickly.

Tips for Using Outlook to save time with your Emails

  • Use folders to arrange your emails
  • Turn off notifications – you don’t need them.
  • Rules are great for automating Outlook to do repetitive tasks such as moving emails to folders, mark certain senders as important and things like that.
  • Create custom emails and use them whenever you can. These custom emails can define a sales funnel, a problem resolution system, and a debt recovery system.


Custom emails

The approach you take depends largely upon your email and how you want them to look, but can be applied to any business that uses email.

new email with headerHere is my email when I open ‘New email’. I like to have a header and a signature file that includes a disclaimer at the bottom.

The aim is to automatically insert a chosen custom email text, change the name and insert the to: address with as little effort as possible.

Using Addins

bells and whistlesThis is an Outlook Addin that I used extensively for a year. It’s great for creating customized emails and with a little messing around you may find it does everything you want. We need a higher level of automation and it’s going to be more efficient to design our own email package.

We’re currently working on a new highly automated system based around Excel. Excel is a great platform to build a system around, ask hundreds of happy customers that we have created solutions for. So goodbye Bells&Whistles … YOU’VE GOT TO MOVE TO EAST!

E.A.S.T (Excel Automated Systems Toolkit)

save the email in msg format

If I take my carefully written custom emails and click SaveAs, selecting msg format, I can create a copy of that email that can then be opened, addressed and sent – simple.

The next phase of EAST is to use these messages in an automated emailing system controlled by Excel.

list of email messages

Here’s the list of standard emails I have so far, they work great for a business such as ours (an agency) so I’ll zip them up and post them on the blog when I’ve finished them.

Once you start using custom emails it will prove to be a vital step in running a business and being a parent at the same time 🙂