The intentional inbox :: how to get your inbox under control
Let’s be frank: are you a slave to your inbox? And by slave I mean - is your inbox running your day instead of you owning your schedule?
The instant gratification we get from seeing a new message pop up in our inbox can be highly addictive. The natural response is to look at it immediately, and when you do this you're effectively allowing email to take you away from other tasks and activities you should be focused on.
Thing is, when we're in constant reactive mode, it means we’re being less productive and intentional about our work.
Each time we allow the distraction of email take us away from what we need to be doing, we lose focus and it takes us waaay longer to get back into the flow of what we were supposed to be working on.
So starting today I want you to make this commitment: I will not be a slave to my inbox. I will be intentional about all that I do and all that I create. I am the master of my destiny.
Here are four quick and easy-to-implement ways you can choose to be more intentional about your inbox and firmly placing you back in the drivers seat:
We spoke about batching your work last week and you can apply the same concept to how you respond to your email by only checking it at certain periods of the day. This will depend on your individual circumstances, but if you can get it down to checking and responding to emails 3-4 times a day, you will suddenly notice you have a lot more time - win!
Here are some ways you can make this work for you:
- Turn off all email notifications on your desktop and phone.
- Shut down your email client when you’re not actively using it (so you nip the habit of checking it when you’re mid-work)
- Remove email from your phone so you aren’t tempted to check it on the go.
- Set up an auto-responder to let people know you only check email 3 times a day to set the expectation for when you will respond and if the matter is urgent to call (or get in contact with you by another means).
2. Create a bank of standard responses.
This is a genius way to work smarter if you find yourself responding to people with similar kinds of responses.
Of course you will need to write a personal response to most emails but there are some cases where standard responses will work.
Some ideas are: to on-board new clients, say yes/no to collaborations and interview requests.
Create a bank of these responses and so when an email does pop up you can automatically refer to it and voila! Time saved!
3. Save time with a phone call.
Sometimes it can be quicker to phone someone rather than spending time typing out an email - be consciously aware of when responding by email is taking you longer than it would to make a quick call instead. This can be a huge time-saver!
4. Prioritize and sort.
This requires some real effort up front to create a system that works, but the benefits are huge. Set up categories and flags for your emails to store them and determine how quickly you need to respond.
Client and new business emails will be a high priority, but you may want to create categories of to emails requesting collaborations or guest posting requests. The Gmail interface is pretty awesome for this and allows you to categorize different types of emails e.g. newsletter and promotions / updates.
Here are a my favorite tools to help you be more organized:
Unroll Me - this handy app checks all the email lists you are currently subscribed to and with one click you can remove all that you no longer want to be part of.
IFTTT - create ‘recipes’ to handle your inbox and move emails into certain folder or lists as they come in for example, I have a recipe set up to automatically move anything marked ‘receipt’ or invoice into another folder. Get creative and use this to set up systems that work for you!
Remember: you are in control - of your day and how it unfolds. This extends to your inbox. Be intentional about it, take back your time and watch your productivity flourish!
I focus all my energy and will on what I know must be done.