As an account manager having a full inbox means clients are waiting for responses, team members need feedback on projects and my to do list is growing. Therefore a full inbox means I’m not doing my job as well I should be. Over the years I have come up with a few tactics that have helped me keep my inbox empty and my productivity high. Sometimes I have to remind myself that spending all day doing email is not my only job task. Not only is it about keeping a clean inbox, it’s about not spending hours a day writing and responding to emails. I’m an account manager not an emaimailer (it should be a word).
1) TACTIC NUMBER ONE, STOP MAKING EMAILS
I found the less emails I send the less I receive. Therefore, I only respond to emails that have questions or if I have a concern, request or question. That means no more emails such as:
Thanks for the email – I think that all sounds good, the client will appreciate it!
Not only did this email add no value to the discussion, it may prompt a response such as –
I’m glad you think the client will like it – looking forward to hearing about their response.
Even though these little emails don’t take up a lot of time, hundreds of them each week eat up your time - trust me.
2) AS CLEAR AS MUD
I have found that taking an extra 5 minutes to be very clear about a request, assignment and or question can eliminate 100s of emails a week. If your team doesn’t have to ask you any questions they won’t have to email you it’s as simple as that.
3) ADD SOME "IFS" AND DEFEND YOUR TIME
I try and add “if’s” where at all possible. This simple two-letter word eliminates so many emails and I think people prefer it. What am I talking about? Here’s an example:
I agree, we do need to meet about the project timeline. Can you meet at 5pm on Monday? If this doesn’t work please provide two other dates and times work for you otherwise accept the calendar invite I just sent you.
By using “if” once I eliminated the need to respond if the date worked and I also won’t have to send an email with other dates if it doesn’t work as they will provide other dates. The tiny word “if” can save you dozens of emails a week.
4) NEWSLETTERS ARE EMAIL WEEDS
It’s time for some Email RoundUp – I am in digital marketing, I sign up for emails, newsletters and services all the time to make sure I am up-to-date all that is new, to watch clients and their competitors and because I am always looking for new opportunities for my clients. 100’s of newsletter subscriptions means 100’s of emails. To satisfy my newsletter fetish and my desire to have an empty inbox I created a new email account and I now use it to subscribe to newsletters (not junk mail, that’s another email address keep reading). This allows me access to all the newsletters while keeping my primary inbox clean.
5) HERE'S MY EMAIL ADDRESS AND I AM NOT GOING TO READ YOUR EMAILS
It seems like once a day I am asked to give out an email address weather its to buy something online, get free Wi-Fi or download an e-book. You know giving out your email means SPAM – what to do? Easy, create a spam email inbox and only use this email inbox for giving out your email.
NEVER GIVE OUT YOUR WORK AND PERSONAL EMAIL TO A SERVICE, protect theses email address like a VIP club - riffraff not allowed.
I still check my junk box a couple of times a week to delete 90% of the inbox and to read the 10% that doesn’t need to be deleted. This is a preference but I also have all my Google Alerts set up for this inbox as they tend to fill up my work inbox.
6) FATHER MAY I BE SENT DIRECTLY TO A FOLDER?
You may – I currently use iMail but I have also used Outlook for many years and rules are the best! It takes some time to set up all your rules you’ll want, but once you do your inbox will be shiny and clean. In most email programs you can set up rules that will automatically deal with email like a traffic cop.
For example, when someone responds to a calendar request you get an email…ugh! What to do? Tell your inbox to put it in a folder or delete it – at the very least have your email mark it as read. You don’t need this email notification, as your calendar will show you if they responded. I use rules to move or delete all emails I don’t want in my inbox but I might want someday as a reference. This way I can search for it if I need it but otherwise I won’t even know it’s there.
7) DEAL WITH THE CRYING BABY AND GIVE IT TO THE ELEPHANT
What!? I know I am getting pretty liberal with the titles but it’s late and I’m feeling goofy.
Crying baby – we’ve all seen it, the 3 year old screaming in the store and the parent staring blankly the other direction acting like the baby followed him in the store and he has no idea where she came from (I’ll explain where she came from in another blog post – cheesy wink). The screaming baby are those emails you don’t want to deal with, the hard or annoying ones you’d rather forget – deal with them. Give them to the elephant.
Elephant – I found the elephant 2 years ago and we have been inseparable since – Evernote is a…what is Evernote? It’s like a dream catcher for thoughts. I use it for my ideas, taking notes and my to do list.
When I get an email I can’t deal with right away I add it to my Evernote to do list. This cleans out your inbox and gets all your to dos in one spot. When they are all together you can decide which one is the most important not which one is next in the inbox – I’ll say it again for effect. With Evernote you can decide which of your tasks is most important not which one is next in your inbox.
8) TURN OFF YOUR EMAIL
What? This post is about cleaning out your inbox – how can you clean out your inbox if you turn it off? Think of it like a self-cleaning stove. You let it clean itself. I only do email 1-2 times a day if possible, usually each session last about 45 minutes. I’ve found if you let emails sit they fix themselves. Example:
I am looking for that presentation you did for China Mist last month – I can’t find it on the network.
Normally I would see the email come in, I would stop what I was doing and I would respond - but my email is off. Normally now, this is the email that follows the email above in the stream.
Never mind I found it.
It saved me maybe 2 minutes but 30 emails a week is an hour more you have to be productive each week.
9) START RETAKING YOUR INBOX IN 10 MINUTES
This email Jedi move came from our CEO Jay, he shared MailStorm - with me and wow! I’m not going to spend time explaining – take my word, it’s awesome and it’s like putting your emails inbox through a gold dredge – all the dirt is removed and you get to keep the gold.
Try these 9 easy tactics and in no time you will be crowned king of your email. It will blow you away how much time you will save. If you have a lot of success send me a email…no second thought leave a comment – I don’t want your email :)
Image by Sebastian Wiertz via NYULocal