An Empty Inbox for 2014
January 14, 2014
My goal for 2014 is more me time.
We read and hear about the importance of work-life balance all the time. For many people it is the best gauge of success. However, as small business owners, it often feels like we are always on the clock. This month I’m focusing on tips and tricks to increase my efficiency in 2014, and along the way I’ll share the best of what I find with you.
This week we’re talking about email. There are plenty of us that are addicted to social media, voicemail, etc. For me it’s email. When my phone makes that special “you’ve got mail” sound, I drop whatever I’m doing and check to see what my clients, friends, and random people and companies I’ve never heard of have to say. I realize this is destructive behavior. It’s not productive, it fragments my time and it takes a toll on relationships.
If this sounds familiar, read on for some great tips on handling email efficiently and effectively.
This is your path to maintaining an empty inbox in 2014…
Your inbox is a never-ending river of incoming emails that could potentially keep you from what you want and need to be working on. The true secret to having an empty email box is keeping an empty email box.
Doing that does take some diligence, but more importantly, it takes focusing on what’s important – not relying on email as your productivity platform and recognizing that you’re not a slave to it.
As New Year’s resolutions begin to pile up, many of us look at our email inbox. Depending on the number of emails in your inbox, you either feel a sense of accomplishment or a deep sense of dread.
If you’re in the latter camp, eliminating that sense of dread is an achievable goal, and now is the best time to do it. Here are five things to consider when setting up for success in 2014.
1. Clear out what’s there
There are solutions readily available for helping you reduce the numbers of emails in your inbox. Mailstrom is a great one, and Microsoft Outlook has made great strides in helping people maintain a tidy inbox.
Everyone has a theory about inbox management from the extreme (deleting everything older than two weeks) to an extensive use of subfolders. If you’re a folder user, don’t be afraid to, especially at the end of the year, drag a bunch of emails into a folder called “2013”. Emails are there when you need them, but not clogging up your inbox. The key here is to not be daunted by the number of emails you’re moving or deleting.
Once you’ve deleted or moved emails from your inbox, you probably still have a few that require your attention. What should be left in your inbox are your priority emails. The following empty inbox secrets will help you address them.
Just because someone sent you a request via email doesn’t mean that you are the best person to deal with it. If you receive an email where this is the case, address it head on by making sure the best person is handling it. Don’t be afraid to delegate. Play on the strengths of those around you if it’s in the best interest of all parties.
4. Recognize and embrace email’s limitations
Email was not designed to help you manage your tasks. In fact, email does more to reduce productivity than it does to increase it… it’s a distraction that’s keeping people from getting their work done.
It doesn’t have to be though. Email is a useful tool for communication, but don’t rely on it as your sole form of communication and management. Recognize email’s strengths and limitations. If you keep your emails short and impactful, people will read them and act on them.
Respond to emails in a way that works best for you. People who deal with you will learn this and adapt.
Founder + Executive Director
Marketing Strategy, Business Optimization & Web Development
Jillyn is a business process and strategy expert. She has nearly a decade of Fortune 100 experience and has spent the past eight years helping small businesses and nonprofits expand their success. Along with the day-to-day operation of the Technology Aloha business and team, she stays involved with every project we work on.