While we are all looking for strategies to cure our email problems, like with most challenges, prevention might be the best solution. With a little effort and planning, it can save you time, money, and surely boost your bottom line.
1. Ditch digital clutter
Unsubscribe to newsletters or deals that you never have time to even open. If they repeatedly go unopened, consider ditching them altogether. You might also want to get rid of deals that are too enticing. This can bait you into spending when you really shouldn’t be. Unless it’s an email from your absolute favorite brand where you can score deep discounts on items within your budget, rethink what you will allow into your inbox. The time it takes to constantly delete these emails can be better spent paying attention to clients, finding new ones, or taking care of other more important work responsibilities.
2. Give email a home
When we take mail out of the mail box, we have to open it right away and decide if it’s important enough to keep. If not, we need to get rid of it right away. Anything money-related is deemed important. There are still some bills, coupons and flyers that aren’t digital that we have to contend with. If we didn’t routinely take care of this, it would become an overwhelming mess.
Just like sorting snail mail, considering putting emails where they need to be as soon as they come in. Set up folders you know you will check and respond to time sensitive messages right away. Maybe you get an email with someone inquiring about your services, or perhaps you’re being notified that you’ve been paid via Paypal. If our inbox is overstuffed, it can be hard to find them or attend to them in a timely fashion.
Consider deleting anything you know you aren’t interested in or doesn’t need a response. This way you can reduce the number of emails in your inbox on a regular basis. You will more readily find other emails like the ones listed above. You can even make a folder for people you need to turn down. Decide if you want to answer right away, get to it after you finish paid work or handle it in batches later on with a canned response to decline such requests politely.
3. Create a system
Set simple rules for yourself. This way you can take the guesswork out of what to do and you won’t just be shooting from the hip each time you get a new email. Say you’re looking to get free publicity to potentially attract more customers, maybe you block out time to check your email for HARO queries (Help a Reporter Out) on a regular basis. Their daily queries are sent to my inbox at set times. If I’m very busy with freelance writing or working on my book, the emails can pile up quickly. Luckily, they are in their own category in my Gmail account under “updates”. They don’t interfere with my regular correspondence with clients or podcasters, but if I need to look up something with HARO in the subject line, it truly can be like finding a needle in a haystack since all of the mounting emails are all in attendance at that time. For this reason, I now ditch anything two days old or more. After reading the query, if it isn’t a fit for me or my clients, I get rid of it right away.
The Bottom Line
An overstuffed inbox can be overwhelming. Staying on top of your email can keep you organized, sane and help you focus on priorities. It can also benefit your bottom line.