If you’re anything like me, your email inbox tends to be full of things you don’t want to deal with.
However, keeping that email inbox under control is essential. Otherwise, you could find yourself struggling and spending more time than planned to take care of important business.
While I still have email-related problems on occasion, implementing the three strategies has helped me stay on top of things:
1. Set Times to Check Email
I’ve had to incorporate email into my daily schedule — just to keep my inbox from being overwhelmed. I usually don’t check first thing in the morning, though.
Since mornings are my prime time to accomplish actual work, I focus first and do email second. I usually do my first pass at email during my mid-morning break.
Then I check again in early afternoon, and then finally about two hours before bed. I stay away from my email, work, and electronics before bed so that I can wind down properly and get good sleep (which is also essential for productivity).
These set times allow me to clear out the inbox without interrupting my peak times for productivity.
2. Take Action on Each Email
Want to get your email inbox under control? Take action on each email as you go. Just ignoring it and saying you’ll get to it later means you won’t. I had to nuke more than 100 emails a few weeks ago because I had just never got to them and I was so far behind that they were irrelevant.
Now, I take an action. For each email decide if you should:
- Delete (or archive)
- Forward to someone who can better address it
- Answer with a canned response
- Answer with a personalized response
- Set up to answer later with the help of a tool like Boomerang
Boomerang has really helped my keep my email inbox under control. Rather than letting something sit there, if it’s something I can put off, I set it to return to my email inbox later in the day, or later in the week. Then I can address it as needed.
By taking action on each email, you get in the habit of staying on top of things.
3. Delegate to others
I can’t quite get into the idea of outsourcing my email to a virtual assistant. However, it can help to delegate in some ways.
One way I do this is with a canned response. Many inquiries I get for rates or for other issues can be answered quickly with a pre-written response. You can also create automatic responses for certain types of emails. Now you’re not even having to look at the email for a response to go out.
Another way to delegate is to refer the email to someone who can better answer the question.
And, of course, if you’re comfortable with it, you can have a VA check your email, and only send the most pressing issues your way.
Making sure you have time to take care of the big picture things is important. Spending all day every day on email will only bog you down and you’ll end up not accomplishing what you want.
Get your email inbox under control and you’ll have more time for what really matters to you and your business.