#TRUTHBOMB: Your email inbox is a never-ending to-do list that someone else is writing for you.
If you don’t set the rules, your inbox will rule you.
No more! You’re about to learn the 3 easy-to-implement hacks that will organize your inbox and help you get way more done!
And here’s why it matters… According to Microsoft research, “People can process about 100 email messages an hour. If you receive 40 to 100 messages per day, all you need is one hour of uninterrupted email processing time to get through your Inbox.”
Further statistics show that of the emails you receive:
- 50% of the email in your inbox can be deleted or filed immediately. Sayonara!
- 30% can be delegated or completed in two minutes or less.
- 20% can be deferred to your Task List or Calendar to complete later.
That means there is rarely, if ever, anything in your inbox that is actually urgent. And yet we let it slow us down from the projects that really do matter.
Ready to take back control of your Inbox in only THREE steps?
1. Schedule Uninterrupted Inbox Time. I firmly believe that email should be closed except for at certain scheduled times each day. Most people will only need two 15-minute blocks for email a day. If you get tons of client emails, you need to adjust this to more like 30 minutes.
Before I implemented this, I’d sit down to work on something that was important for my business growth, but inevitably I’d notice a new email had come in, so I’d stop what I was working on and go read the email. Only an email very rarely comes without strings attached (we’ll talk about that in #2). So, while I told myself I was coming to just glance, in reality, I would get sucked in, feeling this sense of false urgency to take care of the problem. It was never until later – sometimes much later – when I would realize in frustration that I’d become completely distracted from my original project. I had to find a better way, because my inbox was killing my productivity around the projects that were really going to move my business forward. I decided to try checking email twice a day – once in the morning and once in the afternoon.
It worked!! By sticking to scheduled inbox check-ins, my overall productivity has increased dramatically! In fact, it’s amazing how much smoother my workflow and day goes, which begs the question…why do I ever deviate? All I can say is that old habits die hard.
2. Assign Labels. These don’t have to be official labels. Mine are in my head. These labels let me identify and place every email where it belongs.
I have three labels. The first is ‘delete.‘ These are all the emails I don’t need to even open. They are just going straight to trash! The next is ‘reference.‘ These are emails I don’t need to look at now, but I’d like to later. I either move these back to unread or I file them in a sub folder around their topic. Some of my categories include “sales copy,” “education,” “account info,” etc. The last type of email is ‘action.‘ These are usually emails from clients or around projects, collaborations, etc. As implied by the label, action steps will need to be taken.
Now, here’s where I decide what to do with my ‘action’ needed emails. If I can take care of it in 2-minutes or less than I do – right at that moment! And off it goes. If on the other hand, I’m going to need to do some research, locate some files, or whatever else – then I move it back to unread so I can take care of it after my initial email clean out. Obviously, if it really is urgent (which is probably less than 3% of all emails we get), then I take immediate action.
3. Set Auto-Signatures for your most common email replies. This is definitely my favorite email hack by far! Many of the emails we receive can be answered in a similar way every time. Instead of taking incalculable amounts of time responding with the same answer to a new email address, create auto signatures. Label them for each of the topics you need to cover on a reoccurring basis.
For example, I get email requests all. the. time. asking me if I’ll go in and add a link to a blog post for their company. Often the blog posts they are referencing are 10 years old. The time is just not available to do that, so I’ve crafted a very kind but clear email and set it as an auto signature. Now, whenever those requests pop in, I just pull that particular email-signature, and off it goes.
These three tips are easy to implement and crazy effective! Set a timer right now for 15 minutes, and see how much you can do.
Email, as with all technology, has no power in and of itself, only the power we give it. Email should be there to help you grow, not hold you back! That’s why I propose we try a new approach- a happy, organized, and disciplined approach and take back our inboxes. The outcome will be liberating! So what do you say? Are you ready to take back your inbox?
For more tips on using your time wisely to be the most productive version of yourself, check out this post.