I know the personal cost of being sapped by endless busy-work tasks. I’ve struggled before with a long, ongoing, overflowing inbox. It’s hard to focus on a big project when 50 emails are yelling at me for attention, even if it’s as simple as responding, filing, or reading one little email at a time. So, what can we do to ensure our work is better spent on our passion and skills? What are the techniques and tools that can help streamline our email management, so we regain more time back—and experience less frustration?
I’ve tried out some of the great tools you can easily adopt or implement that streamline your inbox. Because you know what? You truly can eliminate, automate and delegate to reduce the overwhelm and focus your time on higher impact activities.
Who still has an overflowing email inbox these days? Yup, it’s not only you. It happens to all of us.
Well, there are tools and systems you can put in place to automatically take care of emails you receive. It’s not too hard to set up rules so that only time-sensitive items land in your inbox. The following tips are some of the favorites used by Boost Coaching and our clients.
Are you subscribed to a bunch of useful newsletters? Use your email system’s rule function to automatically send them to a reading folder so they don't clutter up your inbox. Then, over morning coffee or afternoon tea, you can pop into the reading folder and catch up with your favourite resources.
Here at Boost Coaching, we have set up an email rule that when an email comes in with keywords like invoice, receipt, or receipts paid, it automatically forwards it to Dext. This app automatically integrates with most bookkeeping systems. It’s a tiny step that shortcuts expense and invoice admin.
One of my close champions uses SaneBox to manage her emails. It auto-archives irrelevant emails into the SaneBlackHole folder and files newsletters into the SaneNewsletters folder. It even allows her to mark an email as SaneLater, which prompts the email to be re-sent to her inbox on the date and time of her choosing. You can also “snooze” emails in G-Suite to appear at a later date.
We use tags in our emails to automatically add them to the right project folder. If an opportunity comes in, it's flagged and gets sent to the right team member for actioning
If you send the same types of emails over and over, save a generic version as a template in your email system so that you select that template for standard replies.
Examples in my business include the onboarding email that gives people access to my calendar and the intake form. I use another template when somebody has requested my coaching package. I've got a template for when I reach out to new connections after meeting them at an event, and I even have a template for introducing champions to each other.
In each case, I customize the template a little for that person, but I’m not retyping the same thing that I have typed a million times before.
What emails do you tend to send all the time?
Many email hacks can help manage the ridiculous volume of emails we all receive. It just seems to get worse and worse. Some of my clients tell me they feel like they have to respond immediately. But by getting into the habit of responding to emails as soon as they are received, no matter what hour of the day, you’re unwittingly training your clients and coworkers to expect to hear back from you right away.
Instead, I recommend only responding to emails during regular working hours (for most, that will be Monday - Friday between 8am - 5pm). Anything outside those hours can wait until the next day. Note that you can still catch up on work on your own time, but if you’re clearing out your inbox after hours on a Monday night, simply schedule outgoing emails to automatically send on Tuesday morning. Most email platforms have this “send later” feature.
For some business owners, customers have become extra demanding, going as far as sending follow-up texts if they don’t get a response to their email within 20 minutes. In those cases, I've suggested setting up a bounce-back email that says:
“Thank you. I've received your email. I check my email at 10 am and 3.30 pm every day and will get back to you at one of those times. If your matter is urgent, please send me a text.”_______________________________________________________
This helps “re-train” your contacts to understand that you will not be getting back to them immediately, but assures them you’ll respond to their needs within a reasonable period of time.
I challenge you to automate or set up two different email management hacks to streamline and give you back that important focus time.
How does that sound?
“Eliminate, Automate, Delegate” is not just the title of my e-book, it’s a way to become more efficient in your business. It contains even more of my favourite ways to:
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