Email is a business tool we just can’t avoid. Keeping our inboxes manageable is a daily challenge. (Believe me, I’ve tried the avoiding option and it only becomes a bigger job.) I’m usually pretty good about reading and responding; it’s the filing and organizing that bore me. Plus, my inbox serves as my to-do list in combination with my calendar and so… you know.
Here are some of the ways that I get emails out of my inbox:
Any meeting with other people (phone, in-person, or Zoom) goes directly into my Google Calendar right away. I copy/paste details and links into the description so I can ditch the email. I also use Acuity Scheduling to enable others to directly book meetings – this eliminates the back-and-forth emails to set up an appointment.
If an email contains a task that I’m not going to do right away, I forward it to myself in the future. For example, if a client asks me to do small website updates but I’m working on a project all morning, I’ll forward the email to 1pm in the afternoon… and receive it again then. (I can delete the original email.) I’ve been using an app called FollowUpThen to do this since 2012.
For follow-up and discussion
Sometimes I receive emails like, “Let’s talk about this xyz idea the next time we’re on the phone.” There’s no deadline but I don’t ever want to lose track of ideas. I forward these emails directly to my Trello board for that client.
Receipts and invoices
I used to print and file and then pass to my bookkeeper – ugh! Now I simply forward those emails directly to my QuickBooks account for easy matching there. (Thanks to my amazing bookkeeper!)
Since I specialize in email marketing, you might think I’d skip this one. Managing my subscriptions is one way to limit my inbox overwhelm. Mind you, I subscribe to a lot and often out of curiosity. When I’m no longer curious or finding value (which can be for lots of reasons), it’s time to opt out.
I’m always open to new ideas. What tools and tactics do you use to keep your inbox manageable? Please add them in the comments below.