How to Take Control of Your Inbox

How to Take Control Of Your Inbox

It's difficult to run your business and be as profitable as possible if a large percentage of your time is taken up with managing your inbox.

Email is the bane of most peoples' business lives. It should be one of the most efficient business tools you have. Instead, it's an intrusion that needs to be tamed and kept in check before it becomes overwhelming.

How long do you spend each day on email?

I usually spend less than 15 minutes… but it wasn't always like that.

I used to spend 2 – 3 hours a day answering emails that really didn’t need to be answered or weren’t in the slightest bit important.

My email nightmare came to a head in October, 2013 when I was on vacation. I found myself lounging by the pool, cold beer in hand, ploughing through hundreds of emails. Something had to change!

That day, I did some research and adopted an “inbox zero” outlook to mail.

Basically that means that I aim to have no emails in my inbox at the end of the working day.

Once you start to do this, email becomes a great tool again and not a burden.

Here are some simple tips for getting control of email.

Set Your Out Of Office Reply Daily

Set your out of office reply when you are working, for example, between 10 am and 4 pm. In the message, tell people that you’ll only answer emails between 9am – 10am and 4pm – 5pm.

Also include instructions for contacting your Helpdesk or support desk. Direct them to your FAQ section if you have answers to commonly asked questions there.

Use Advanced Email Clients

I suspect most people use Gmail or the Google Docs email reader to control their emails… it's not efficient!

There are lots of advanced email clients that let you quickly archive, delete or postpone emails to a more convenient time, Mailbox is one.

The new Outlook for iOS is another. It’s superb and makes the Gmail client look like something from the 80’s.

Speaking of iOS, if you have an iPad or an iPhone they make great tools for handling emails. I often use my iPad to handle most of my email tasks as I find it quicker than traditional desktop mail clients.

Combine Tools

My main solution for handling email is to use 2 tools in tandem.

From the stats the first tool gives me, it seems that I used to receive emails from over 1,200 sources. Imagine if they came in every day!

 

I use Unroll.me to deal with all the emails that may be useful but aren’t that important. Groupon deals, Appsumo, amazon deals, etc. and it adds them to a single email. It also lets me unsubscribe with a single click. Since I’ve used it, I’ve “rolled up” 193 email sources and unsubscribed from 716. That’s potentially 900 less emails to deal with!

That leaves 328 email sources that still arrive in my inbox at any time, but with with a click of a button, I can move them to the rollup list or unsubscribe.

For those that I don't rollup or unsubscribe from, I have another tool, Sanebox.

Sanebox is genius, it separates important emails, which go straight to your inbox, from emails that can be dealt with later.

You have the option of 5 different mailboxes to separate emails. I have Later, Payments Received, News, and Notifications set up.

You can quickly assign emails to different boxes so that you never miss an important one amongst all the daily crap.

I generally only now get between 5 & 10 emails a day that I have to deal with immediately. These are from people whose emails I enjoy reading or important email.

Conclusion

You don't need to use all the methods above. If email is an intrusion on your working life, choose the solution that works for you. Remember, email should be a tool that helps you grow your business.

If you have any tips you use to keep a clean inbox, please post them in the comments section or on the Facebook page.

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