New Year – Fuller Inbox

The scene is all too familiar. It’s the first Monday of the new year, and you’ve stepped back into your office for the first time since the start of the holidays. Your office is clean and organized (thanks to your end of the year business de-clutter). You eagerly sit down at your computer and, likely, the first thing you do is open your email.

Cue the overwhelm.

“How does my inbox have 2,632 emails?”

“129 of these are unread. 57 of them are spam or marketing emails. The other 72 need to be read and responded to.”

“Where do I start?”

“I don’t have time for this.”

Sound familiar?

Where you’re at…

If you felt the anxiety building as you thought about your own email, I promise you are not alone. Email can be a cumbersome and overwhelming aspect of your business. It can slow you down and take you away from the most valuable parts of running your business – connecting with clients and building your business!

A simple discipline can take your email from chaos to order.

If you are starting fresh or recently transitioned to a new email address, this system will get you started on the right foot. Most likely, though, you have had the same email address for years and your inbox is now an unruly holding place for all your digital communication.

Here’s the Plan

Here’s what I want you to do with these basic steps:

  1. Take a deep breath. Getting a grip on your email doesn’t have to be earth shatteringly hard.
  2. What’s in the inbox? Take 5 minutes and scan your inbox. On a piece of paper, make a list of recurring themes you find throughout your emails. I’ll give you some ideas to get you started:
    • Continuing Education
    • Credential Renewal
    • Coaching Inquiries
    • Marketing Resources
    • Social Media
    • Business to Business Connections
    • Web Development
    • Prospect Follow-Up
    • Printing & Reproduction
  3. Set up your folders. Now, let’s build your structure. In whatever email provider you use, start setting up folders within your email inbox based on the list you created in step 2. This is how you will “sort” emails.
  4. Start from a blank slate. You’ve got your folders but you still have thousands of emails in the inbox. Save yourself a ton of time and frustration in this step. Create an “Archive” or “Old Emails” folder. Select ALL of your emails and move them into that folder. Do you hear the angels singing as you stare at that empty inbox?
  5. Every email has a home! 3 minutes from now when you get a new email, decide where it needs to go. Trash? Gone. Folder? File it. Needs an Action? Star it to revisit it for completion. File it when you’ve taken care of it.
  6. Prioritize the 2 Minute Ramp Up. At the start of each work day, clean up your inbox. This helps you create your task list for the day and allows you to accomplish something immediately by filing or cleaning out excess emails.

Bonus or Pro Tips

  1. As you get started, you will often have emails that don’t fit in the folders you created. Create a folder on the spot for that email. Chances are more emails will fall into that category. Eventually you will have a well oiled machine in your inbox.
  2. Use your inbox as a “to-do” list. Don’t file the email until it is taken care of. This helps to ensure that no emails fall through the cracks.
  3. If you use Gmail, utilize the “Snooze” feature! Have an email in your inbox that you don’t want to forget, but today is not the day you need to take action? Click the “Snooze” button and schedule when that email will pop back up into your inbox.
  4. When scheduling appointments with clients, use the subject line as foolproof way to find these emails when you need them. Try including the “what” (Discovery Call), the “when” and the “who” in the subject line. It could look similar to this: Company Name Discovery Call – Tues. Jan 11 @ 12pm ET – John Doe. If you ever needed to quickly reference your client correspondence, it will take seconds to search for this email.
  5. Another Gmail perk is the different “stars” you can assign to emails. Use exclamation points for urgent tasks, or the blue “i” for information to reference FYI type emails. Create your own system to mark emails within your inbox.

I hope this has been helpful for you in taking back your email inbox this year! Read more tips for planning for the new year here.