Ahh… don’t you just love answering emails all day long?Nope. Me neither. Email has to be one of the most dreaded tasks on a small business owner’s to do list. Unfortunately, it has to be done. The good news is that with a few simple tweaks to your email management system, you’ll be loving your email inbox in no time.
Ok, love is maybe a strong work but it will at the very least, be more tolerable.
Step One: Fix Your Mindset.
Your inbox is full of other people’s agendas. Avoid falling into that trap of jumping out of bed in the morning and letting everyone else’s priorities run your day. We have all done it.
You wake up, you have your plan for the day all set then you check your emails. Suddenly it’s 6pm and you haven’t even checked off the first thing on your to do list.
You’ve been there, right? (Me too!)
Don’t check email when you first wake up. Remember that people are sending you emails when it’s most convenient to them. That means you can open and read them when it’s most convenient to you. You decide. If you feel a little anxious about this, you can always set specific times to answer email. You can even let people know exactly when those times are. You can also let them know how to get in touch with you if the matter is urgent.
The great thing is if you say tweet me or text me then it forces them to be short because no one writes huge paragraphs via text. This practice alone can save you a ton of time and it encourages people to contact you at YOUR most convenient time as opposed to theirs.
Step Two: Make Use Of Gmail
Gmail is great because it categorizes your mail into tabs and it gets pretty clever about placing the right emails in the right place. As a result, you can quickly delete the ones you have no intentions of reading after a quick skim. It also means you can put the important emails re. receipts etc. in one place to deal with them at a time you have scheduled to deal with those particular emails and instead focus on your primary inbox. For example, email time is for email, finance time is for receipts etc. and social time is for social. Setting Gmail rules up can really help with this too.
Step Three: Turn Off Social Notifications
We don’t need to have social notifications being sent to our inboxes. We already hear the beeps and the whistles and the notifications all day long when we are on these platforms, we don’t need them clogging up our inboxes as well. Just turn them off. Just seeing a huge number of emails in your inbox can give you a headache, this will eliminate a ton of them.
Step Four: Unsubscribe
Use Unroll.me to unsubscribe from all those emails that you are never going to open. Don’t question it. Unsubscribe. Go through your emails just now and every email you see where you think ‘I’ll open that later’ vs. ‘I’ll open that now’ has to go because you will never get round to reading it. Be brutally honest with yourself.
If you are subscribed to blogs, unsubscribe from them too. Instead, set them up in a tool like Pocket or Feedly and again set time aside specifically for reading those blogs. That way, you’ll actually get round to reading them and you’ll be more focused when you do.
Step Five: Use The 3-Minute Rule.
If it takes less than 3 minutes to answer an email, just do it. Get it done. Don’t procrastinate. If you see an email and you can answer it, go for it. You’re just going to think about it all day until you get round to answering it anyway. Save yourself some time, be productive and clear your inbox quickly with the 3-minute rule.
Step Six: Use Boomerang.
Sometimes an email isn’t a priority just yet. The email may be something that does need to be answered but perhaps not today, this week or even this month. Instead of having that email just sit there, Boomerang it. The Boomerang app allows you to send mail away and bring it back at a later date/time. So instead of taking up your email inbox space, you can set it and forget it until you have to deal with it.
The other great thing about Boomerang is you can schedule emails to be sent out at a later date too. For example, if you are sitting the night before thinking about all the emails you need to send the next day, you no longer have to try and remember them. Instead, you can send them the night before and schedule them to go out at a certain time the next day. Preferably send them just a little before your scheduled email time. That way, you’ll likely have a response to reply to at YOUR most convenient time.
Step Seven: Be Brief.
We all hate email so you are actually adding value by keeping it short and to the point. When you keep emails short and to the point, others will too and email starts to become a much less strenuous task than it needs to be.
How’s that? Did I cover all bases? Let me know below!
Email really doesn’t have to be that big awful time suck we try to avoid. It’s just about being disciplined and having a system in place to ensure your inbox can be maintained at all times.