The biggest time suck of running a business is the inbox overload, am I right? When I first started Nuevo Studio I was attached to my inbox (and still am but am getting better) I would reach for my phone every 15 min to check my email and all our social media channels. Talk about starting unhealthy habits. While wading through the inboxes is still a daily thing for me I have learned some skills from mentors, podcasts and other golden nuggets from the internet and am here to share what I have learned as well as share some of my results from cutting back on my notification addiction. Let’s start easy.
One — think about when you are in your “zone” - what time of day is that? Is that right when you start work? After you’ve had a few cups of coffee in the morning? Or maybe you’re an afternoon zone genius. Whatever time is the time you feel you can knock off the most off your to-do list or can really concentrate on that big project, this time is qualified as “No Inbox Time.” Do not even have the email tab open, the notifications on, nothing. A mentor of mine once told me this and it hit home: Having your inbox open is like having your office door open. Allowing people to come in and pull you out of your creative genius, asking you a questions mid email write up, coming to chit chat when you are on a roll of crossing things off the to-do list. It’s like having that great idea and it be interrupted and lost forever (RIP Great Ideas) So if you are an mid afternoon zone genius like myself close that inbox, turn your phone over, put on the headphones and “go under”
Two — Limit your inbox time. So many successful business people say this… do not live in your inbox. I jump into my inbox twice a day for 30 min each time and try to get through as many emails as I possibly can and this comes with delegation or adding actionable items into Asana or marking it unread so I can get back to it. On slower days or weeks I’ll take a little longer to bring down that inbox number or to read some article I have stored away in my “Education” folder. Limiting your inbox to those less than creative time-zones helps you keep the flow of your business going while still ensuring people that need to be responded to are done in a timely manner (within 24-hour business day.) Let me just say this… I know starting a business is hard and getting potential client emails is amazing, however, for the most part people are not expecting an immediate response (unlike texting) now don’t let them sit in your inbox for a week, but knowing that you can get to them by the end of the day is not being disrespectful. I check my inbox when I first get to the office over my 1st cup of office coffee and then check it again around 4pm to answer back to anyone before the end of the day or leave some actionable items for the next morning for myself.
Three — So if you know me, or have read some of my workflow tips you know that I am a system lover. A lot of the same emails I consistently write over and over again, I have them as a template where I can copy and paste to speed through my inbox time. The best place I do this is in my follow up emails. I have them pretty short and straightforward so I can easily copy them and reuse them for most of my clients.
Four — Following right along from three, I use a little chrome widget called “Boomerang” for my gmail account. This allows me to schedule emails. Yes! Re-read that, I said schedule emails! This is especially helpful with my follow up process. As soon as I send a potential client a proposal I copy and paste my three follow up emails and schedule them to go out when I want. It also has a little box I can tick which will cancel emails to go out if the person responds to that thread. I know! Talk about systematizing tedious chores. With that being said I also schedule out all my emails for the week on Monday so I can spend less time in my inbox the rest of the week.
Five — Delete your work email from your phone. I know, it is so hard. At least do it for a week to unplug and you will see how much you truly pick up your phone. While it’s been a bit busy over here I’ve put my email back on my phone but am way more cautious about when I open my email app. Plus, writing emails on your phone is so much harder than if you were to type from you computer (plus you should have grammarly installed on your computer to catch any spelling errors) so I tend to just check and delegate on to someone else or let it sit there til my next designated “inbox time” once I’m back in the office. If deleting your work email from your phone is way to scary, trust me I know, at least turn off the notifications so you are more in control of when you get pulled away from your genius zone moments.
So there you have my five tips to managing your inbox and getting back to getting the work done because I don’t know anyone who said they wanted to read emails and answer emails all day as a career. Did you? And hey, if you are that person maybe being a VA is in your future! If you want to read some of our tips on increasing your productivity you can find that article here.
Do you have any inbox tips? Leave them in the comments! Or if there is a certain topic you would like to know about coming from us please feel free to drop us a line or a comment and we will do our best to share.