Email. That one word that simultaneously reflects necessity and frustration in business. You need email, especially on the go, to receive vital messages from partners and cherished customers – but its volume can leave you wanting email in small doses.
In the brief 74 page ebook Work Smarter Rule Your Email ,  author Alexandra Samuel, PhD (@awsamuel ) notes the severity of the collective feelings towards email and offers actionable solutions for improving email usage.
Samuel is a regular contributor of social media blogs and the Harvard Business Review as well as other publications. She is also Vice President of Social Media for Vision Critical, a global market research technology provider. I picked up a copy from the Harvard Business Review press editor, and gained a useful highlight for online productivity.
This ebook is part of a Work Smarter with Social Media series, so it is meant to work alongside topics on other services that rely on digital collaboration, such as Evernote, Hootsuite, and Twitter. But this one book does stand on its own two feet as a small business aid for using email as the primary foundation for effective communication online.
As you can imagine from the brevity, this book does not cover features in office email staples like Microsoft Outlook. In fact, Samuel writes that the book was not meant to:
“This book is for people who get too much email, which is a bit like saying, ‘This book is for people who have email.'”
I liked Samuel’s opening statement. It notes for whom this book is meant, yet remains aware of the daunting nature of the book’s mission.
Instead of recounting Google Gmail features, Samuel explains the basic functions that would appear in an email solution, such as filters and functions. The result is an explanation of what function filter and folders serve relative to your potential actions. For example, Samuel lays out the folder types – alternate, reference, and list – based on your response to the messages. This approach sets the pace for organizing the book’s material.
The tone of the writing is light and jargon-free, making it easy for you to get the “smarter” part that is the source of the book’s title. Samuel’s overarching theme is making selections for what should be in one’s email. That means using folders and filter rules effectively.
Chapter two comes in handy by emphasizing what actions are needed, such as prioritizing bottlenecks in responding to people:
“When you’re doing a quick scan through your inbox, prioritize any message or request where you are the bottleneck. If one or two minutes of your time can provide a colleague with the answer or resource she needs to move forward on her project, your timely attention has a direct impact on the overall efficiency of your company or team.”
A tip like this is useful not only in a corporate context. As small businesses collaborate increasingly as teams, managing responses to emails instead of letting notes sit without a response for days becomes critical.
There are user tips also included, so the reader gains from various perspectives, and mentions of email managers. At the end of the book, there is a 30 minute email setup section, meant to reinforce and to tie together the tips for readers, tech-warriors and analog-biased professionals alike.
As a starter book for getting things organized, Work Smarter Rule Your Email starts you on the right path for learning email solutions that make communication easier.
Read Work Smarter Rule Your Email to improve your productivity and seize the digital part of your day.