Delegate, Focus, and GROW Your Business

Email Overwhelm, Part 2

You may have started implementing the strategies we discussed in the first article or perhaps it is still on your to-do list. The second part in this series aims at a more radical change—we will be changing our perception of our inboxes. We will start looking at inboxes in an action-oriented way.

In other words, change your ‘In Box‘ to a ‘To Do Box’.

Create a folder in your inbox titled *To Do. The reason for the “*” is to ensure that the folder stays at the very top of your folder list in any email system – Gmail, Outlook, Hotmail, etc.

In this folder, create sub folders for your common workloads: Prospecting and Leads; Client Name 1; Client Name 2; Family & Friends; Bills & Accounting etc. When emails arrive, if they are not urgent, just move them to the respective to do folder. Then, when you sit down to produce work, go to the folder you want to work on.

Let us see how this works in a typical scenario: Caroline, a project consultant, has an email address that she uses only for the purpose. She never uses it for subscribing to mailing lists or buying online. She sets up subfolders—Urgent, Clients, Family & Friends, and Accounting. The first thing she does when she opens her email in the morning is to scan the emails rapidly by subject. She deletes spam immediately. Then, she moves the mail into the folders set up in her inbox. She takes the email in the urgent folder first and starts working on them. She takes one task at a time and completes it before going to the next, avoiding multitasking. When the urgent tasks are over, she starts on the ones in the other folders. Working in this way, she avoids the buildup of emails in her inbox, and is able to focus on priorities.

Providers like Gmail and others let you automate the task of classifying emails. You can set up filters that catch emails from a particular client/relative/friend, and archive in the respective folder. For this, go to Settings in Gmail. Click Filters, and then click Create a new filter. In the From field, enter the person’s email id. Now click Create filter with this search. Select Skip the Inbox and Apply the label. Select the label of the folder by clicking Choose label. Then click Create filter. Now Gmail will filter all mail from this address and send it to the folder.

If you feel that all this takes too much time, make use of virtual assistance. A virtual assistant will ensure that your precious time goes into your valuable projects, and that you never miss anything important.

 photo credit: heliosphan

Posted on February 18th, 2013 by Rachel Braam, Office Manager

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