She said “I have this thing. It bounces on my screen so I can’t ignore it every time an email comes in. That way I make sure I don’t miss anything.”
I was having a conversation with a member of my team about time management and self-management and we were trying to find ways to increase productivity and efficiency in the business.
That’s when she told me about the bouncing ball; one of my most reliable and productive team members.
I wanted to reach through the phone and turn her email notifications off myself!
Email is super important. It is a vehicle for communication between you and your customers and your employees.
I get up to 300 emails a day. If I didn’t have ways to manage that it would be complete chaos.
This is how I manage my inbox so I can focus on what is most important in my business.
- Get Organized – Set up folders for all the emails that you need to keep so you have an effective way to file and store email rather than leaving them in your inbox.
- Turn off notifications – It’s a constant disruption and interruption in your day. Reading an email doesn’t take only a few seconds. You have to shift your focus from what you are working on to that incoming email, read it, make a decision, take action or file the email, or decide to come back to it later, and then refocus on what you were doing before. When you disrupt your focus, it makes it harder for you to complete the task at hand in an efficient and effective manner.
- Have an Emergency Plan – All my clients know if it is urgent – text me or call me. Otherwise if it is email, it will get responded to usually within 24-48 hours. Not every email is urgent, but a lot of times we treat every email like it is taking your energy and focus away from key priorities.
- Unsubscribe – Scrub your inbox by deleting and unsubscribing to newsletters and email lists you don’t actually read. Stop hoarding newsletters and emails you’re never going to read later because if you don’t have time to read it now, chances are you are not going to read it when it’s “old”. Give yourself permission to say “I had very good intentions when I kept these but I will never have time to read them and it’s time for them to go.”
- Mass Delete – Control all – delete is a beautiful thing. I do this every so often for any email I haven’t read or filed for the last six months. Who am I kidding, if I haven’t read or filed the email in the last six months the chances of it actually happening are slim to none.
- Use your Mobile Device – Learn how to reply on the fly and if you have an iPhone use the VIP function on your phone to easily sort messages from key contacts, customers and or employees. This will help you sort through the volume and find what is important quickly.
- Take Action Once – Once read and actioned upon, an email needs to be deleted or archived. Doing this will leave your inbox with nothing but a manageable number of new emails or those that are still awaiting action. I have a folder in my inbox specifically for items I need to action or respond to. This allows me to quickly go to one file and respond to current outstanding requests.
- Schedule Time for Email – Stop checking your email every 5 minutes. Schedule a couple of times a day to scan, respond, and manage email. Give yourself a time limit and you will be amazed at how much you can get done.
- Auto-responders – Use “Out of Office” responders when you are on vacation or out for a day. This lets those emailing you know that you aren’t ignoring them and they will be a priority for you when you return.
- Time and Place – Checking your email in the evening is fine, so long as it isn’t interfering with your life outside of work. Be aware of the disruption email can be creating for the important relationships in your life. We have all had someone check email on their mobile device when we are talking to them and felt the sting of not being important. You may be so used to scanning your phone that you don’t even realize you are doing this.
- Hire Help – Can’t manage email yourself? Hire someone to manage your inbox and help you to respond to the priorities. If email is not helping you increase the bottom line in your business then it is not your top priority.
You can win the war against your email and keep your sanity. It just takes a little planning. Tell me, what is your top trick to email sanity?
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