5 Ways to Cut Overwhelm Out of Your Inbox
This article was originally posted on Forbes
Email tips + hacks for the entrepreneur who prefers not to be tied to their inbox.
As a new business owner, it’s easy to feel tied to your inbox. After all, you’re trying to capture new leads and turn prospects into paying clients, so dropping everything to answer an email, no matter what time of day, just seems to be part of the gig!
But after battling my own inbox for years, and always feeling obliged to check and respond to emails 24/7, I knew that there had to be a better way.
I wanted to make sure my clients got the attention and help that they needed via email, but I desperately needed to find a way to cut out the interruption anxiety that came along with every new email ping.
After a lot of trial and error, I’m happy to share with you the top 5 tips and email hacks that I’ve uncovered (and use daily) to cut the overwhelm out of my inbox.
1. Block and Tackle
Breaking the habit of constantly checking email can be hard! Especially when most of us check our inbox before even getting out of bed in the morning! But I’ve found that scheduling time to tackle emails helps eliminate a lot of the stress in my work day.
Instead of dropping your work at any given moment to respond to a new message, try giving your inbox “office hours” and schedule a 30-minute block of time each morning, noon, and night (or whatever work best for you and your business) to focus on and prioritize email.
2. Organize your inbox
To save time in your inbox you need an email system that works for you!
Around here we use Google email for business as it has many features and extensions that help us stay on top of our game. But no matter your provider, it’s worth spending some time getting to know your system and how you can make it work even better!
Here are a couple ways to keep your inbox tidy in Gmail;
- Setup a Priority Inbox. Set up your email in easy-to-reference sections that allow you to view important and unread messages first. You can also set labels to ensure that certain emails stay on top of your feed instead of getting buried. This handy tool, and other features, can be setup easily through your Gmail settings. (Simply change your inbox type to “priority inbox” and then chose how you would like to prioritized your feed).
- Delete and opt out of unneeded emails. To keep your inbox clean delete unneeded emails immediately and/or use a service like unroll.me to opt out of any lists (i.e., newsletters) that you no longer need to be on. Be honest, when’s the last time you opened that weekly update from Susie-fashion-blogger?
- Set up a second email account for “other” emails that don’t pertain to work. If you subscribe to a number of online services or brand newsletters you most likely have a flood of unread emails cluttering your inbox. By setting up a second account for “other” emails you can keep your main inbox organized, while having a go-to account for brand emails and other useful info.
- Archive past client emails. When you’ve finished working with a client, instead of keeping their emails in your general feed, create a folder to reference if needed later down the road.
3. Create easy-to-edit drop in Email templates
As business owners, a lot of us tend to send similar emails over and over again. Like a price sheet, information on a specific service, our process, etc.
To cut down the time it takes to rewrite the same type of email several times over, try creating go-to email templates right inside your Google account by enabling Gmail’s canned responses. Then, with a simple click, you can insert your template into a new message and voila - your email is finished!
You can enable canned responses in google email settings under “Labs.”
4. Send an Audio Message
The most time-sucking emails are the ones with a lot of detailed information to cover. These also tend to be the emails that turn into a long string of messages that go on and on.
To prevent the back and forth, and to ensure great communication from the get-go, try pressing record and talking through specifics. I’ve found that audio also adds an unexpected personal touch to an email – which is an added bonus!
There are a number of audio recording apps out there, I recommend Apple’s Voice Memos, Voice Record, and Voxer.
5. Hire an Assistant
Finally, if your inbox is a source of constant overwhelm, and you have the resources, I would highly recommend hiring an assistant to help keep your inbox sane.
You can also set up an alternate email to filter out specific messages that your new assistant can help manage, like general inquiries or support questions.
Sasha Kill is the founder and lead designer at Outlaw Creative where she’s on a mission to empower entrepreneurs to grow their brands in remarkable ways. With an extensive background in marketing design and online strategy her clients include best-selling authors, celebrity chefs, world renowned artists, and multiple self-made 7 figure businesses. You can find her insights on design, marketing, and branding on www.outlawcreative.com.