In a perfect world your inbox is key to unlocking opportunities, dreams and doing more of what you love. In reality, chances are it’s a mess of GroupOn newsletters and emails you forgot to reply to. Which is a shame because like it or not, the number 1 way of communicating is through email, and it’s communicating well (and on time) that will help you run a business, find new opportunities and be successful at what you do. So if your gateway is overflowing, messy and unregulated, so too will your life be…
Tell me about it! For a long time I’ve met deadlines, negotiated projects and created new business despite a scary inbox where things get lost, or never seen at all, and there’s always a nagging sense that I forgot to reply to someone important. Enough! In week two of get yo’self organised I talk you through my recent email overhaul. Now is the time people! To be master of your inbox is to be master of your domain (name). 🙂
1. Put in place a manageable structure
I know I’m not the only one who has like 5 email addresses – some that are a decade old and no longer being used (other than random weekly newsletters from nightclubs I don’t remember going to). The first thing I did last week was close up shop on a few email addresses – I put an autoresponder on them to let people know that there is now another email to write to, so I don’t have to actively manage those email addresses. We’ve also switched from our web host to gmail for business accounts, you can use it as a service provider with your own domain, and I’ve found to be functional and without the downtime of other hosts.
2. File what you can
I’m an email hoarder from way back, and never delete emails that pertain to business (you never know when you are going to have to forward an email as proof of an agreement). That said, I’ve recently started sorting emails into folders so that I can see exactly what is happening on a project all the time, or can collate emails together that relate to a certain trip or event. These days, for each new project or client I get I create a folder, and all files for the project go into that folder. On a program like gmail you can search all folders at the same time in the search box, which makes it easy to locate an email even if it’s been put in a file.
3. Use Filters or Rules
I’ve become a bit of a filter addict, so that all new emails from someone or with a particular subject get automatically filed, so I don’t have to. In particular I like to create rules for emails I get all the time such as newsletters that are important to read at some point but not right now. The more you can get your inbox down to just important things the better.
Facebook notifications, promotional emails, daily deals. Who needs ’em? Use the unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email. If you can’t unsubscribe (this is illegal but still happens) set a filter that sends it straight to the trash. It may take a bit more time initially but your future self will thank you for it later.
5. Create a better email workflow
Creating a process for dealing with emails has helped me a lot recently. In the past I checked them on my phone or laptop when I had a spare moment, and would often forget to reply because by the time I went back new emails had come in. The biggest thing has been avoiding checking them when I don’t have time to action them, and learning to reply straight away, rather than leaving the reply until later (later of can often mean never). That’s why I don’t have my email on my phone anymore (I found I was looking at emails and not replying). I’ve also done away with my notifications on my computer and added a filter than only checks incoming every hour. Yay for less distractions!
6. Create Canned Responses
OMG guys, this is something I only discovered recently in gmail, basically it allows you to send a form email to someone as a reply, which is so great if you’re a blogger who gets loads of the same ‘hi we want to work with you’ emails. The one that I send the most is a response with my media kit in it and a bit of further information. I’ve seriously saved so much time already.
7. Check Junk
I get a scary number of junk emails and find that apple mail and gmail are quite good at sorting those out, but once in a while something good ends up in junk. I recently found an email from an airline about a once in a lifetime sounding trip to the US, on a date which has just passed. While I accepted that sometimes this happens for a reason (I probably wasn’t mean to go), that doesn’t mean it should happen. A weekly junk check never goes astray.
Do you have any other ways you manage your emails? I’d love to hear!