Email. That evil minx. If yours is anything like mine, she can steal your whole day from right under your well-meaning feet. She can make you feel overwhelmed with work AND like you’re never getting anything done. Some days just thinking about my inbox feels like I’m being sucker punched. Can you relate?
Here’s 10 suggestions to help you take control of your inbox and get back to business without the email monster swallowing you whole.
- You’ve heard it before because it really does make a huge difference: Check your inbox at regular + limited times during the day. Whatever you do DON’T keep email open, and especially not those email notifications. Just shut that shit down. I try really hard to limit myself to checking email twice a day.
- Setting realistic expectations is key to keeping peeps happy. Use your email auto-responder to let people know what’s going on in your world. Most of the time people are just as busy as – if not even busier than – you, so they’ll love knowing when they can expect to hear back from you.
As always, the key is to under promise and over deliver. Give yourself some breathing room. Don’t say you’ll get back to peeps within 24hrs if that means you’ll lose your hair and never smile again. I know people whose auto-responders tell me I can expect a reply within 3 business days – and I love being in business with them! I know other kick ass women entrepreneurs whose auto-responders tell me that they’re working on a big project all week, and that they’ll get back to me next week – and you know what? I love working with them too because I know when they’re working with me they’ll give me that same kind of all-in attention!
- Include answers to your most frequently asked Qs in your friendly auto-responder message. If people are always asking you to reset their password, how to download your eBook, if they can interview you, who to call for IT support, when your hand-knitted socks will be back in stock, where to send love letters, dude just let them know straight up.
- Regularly send out invites or thank yous or questionnaires or something else? Create templates for things you frequently communicate and USE THEM so you don’t have to reinvent your wheel.
- Zero.inbox.baby. Zero inbox. Imagine being greeted by 30 new emails when you open your email, instead of 3000. Imagine closing out your workday knowing that inbox of yours is sitting on empty. I know you already know that feeling’s SO gonna be worth the effort. ‘Nuff said.
- Invest in your business and engage a Virtual Assistant to be your front door. Empower them to filter, group and prioritize your emails, highlight urgent emails requiring your genius, and send out simple responses (They could even use those templates you set up clever thing!).
(Did you just read this and think ‘WOMAN I can’t afford that?’ If so, don’t be so hasty… I vote you consider how much your time is worth, do some actual research, and check out how much the investment would truly be before blowing this off.)
- Batch it up; group like with like and prioritize. For example, I group together sending and replying to emails about upcoming interviews and collaborations, replying to my gorgeous blog readers, and with peeps on my support team. Reading subscriptions is always last on my list.
- On subscriptions, thanks to Amber I’ve discovered unroll.me, an app that sucks all of your subscriptions out of your inbox and then delivers them to you whenever you want (say once a day or once a week) in a single email. And PS that baby’s free! Speaking of helpful apps, Amber also shared boomeranggmail.com, an app that lets you schedule when you’d like to revisit specific emails and when you’d like specific responses to be sent out. Neat right!
- If project work is clogging up your inbox, take that stuff outta email and into Basecamp or another teamwork or project mgmt app. Sure you’ll still need to spend time working on those tasks – hopefully they even relate to your core business – but taking it out of your email account means you won’t be distracted or overwhelmed by other emails as they come in. And that might even mean you’ll get through those tasks more quickly.
- If going back and forth with subcontractors or team members is keeping you stuck in that dreaded inbox, set up regular (recorded if you want) team meetings via phone or Skype instead. Nominate someone to send through your agreed key decisions/actions after the meeting, instead of your emailing them. Hell, you could even ask that subcontractor or Virtual Assistant or other fabulous team member to update that pesky project mgmt app too.
I hope there’s something here you’ll find useful.
I’d love you to share so we can all learn:
01. Do you ever feel overwhelmed by email?
02. How often to do check your email?
03. What’s your best tip for managing your inbox?
Ok, I’m off to go take my own advice…
PS Are you secretly wishing you had this problem? Is the only thing in your inbox tumbleweed? Never fear, I’m working on some posts just for you.
- Like I need a stiff drink
- Like I can do anything
- Like Im at a yawn-fest
Learn how to prioritize, plan, and actually make shit happen Betty style!
Get your copy of Kill Overwhelm + Make Shit Happen (RRP $19.99)
PLUS weekly tips to help grow your dream business... for FREE!