Kick Your Email in the @

Posted by Heather Villa, CMA, MBA, MSM on May 19, 2010 in: Email Efficiency


Your email inbox might SEEM like a minor thing, an innocuous thing; just a useful tool and that’s it. But, unchecked, it can become a powerful force against productivity. It can become a bully that takes over your time and ultimately destroys your ability to produce revenue. In some of the business productivity coaching I do, one of the first things we take care of is mastering the inbox.

I have a few different ways to help people with their inbox; it really just depends on the business owner and the business itself. In this post I’m going to give you a few of the inbox best practices that I’ve found to be helpful.

  • Don’t keep your inbox open. Schedule time to look at your email once an hour or once every 90 minutes.
  • If you feel that you can’t survive without having your email open all the time (and I understand that there are some businesses that require it) then get a notification system that will discreetly pop up the sender and subject line in the corner of your screen. That way, you can do other things and can watch as emails come in.
  • Don’t use your email as a to-do list. The reason is, you’ll end up with a to-do list here and a to-do list in another place (and maybe more) and something will get lost. Keep one to-do list and when an email comes into your inbox, look at it and add it to your to-do list.
  • Unsubscribe from stuff you don’t read.
  • Filters are your friend! Filter the predictable emails into the right places. If there are newsletters you do read, filter them into their own file so they don’t clutter up your inbox. If you get cc’d on stuff that you need to keep a record of but you never read, filter it into a file.
  • Set up useful file structures. If you’re a subscriber to my Tips In Ten newsletters, you’ll have read my email issue and hopefully you are using the file structure I provided there. But there are other file structures that might work for you. I have one client who uses a file structure sorted by days of the week and he puts emails into them so he can access them on that day.
  • In general, approach your inbox with the idea that you handle an email once, you act on it (by reading it, moving it to your to-do list, responding to it, forwarding it, and/or deleting it). That’s it. There aren’t any other actions to take on your emails.
  • Set a timer and go through your emails in that time period. This helps you to avoid those frequent occasions when an email sends us down a proverbial rabbit trail.
  • Deal with an email by handling it once, delete it, and move on.

Inboxes can overwhelm us. But they don’t have to. By using some of these techniques, you’ll master your inbox and it will become helpful to you again.

Happy Blogging!

Heather Recommends:

I love working with coaches, freelancers, and entrepreneurs to help them become more successful. If you'd like to improve your business, find out how I can help.

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