Emily Kristofferson

Spring Clean Your Business: Your Email Inbox

Over a five-part series, I’m applying spring cleaning to our businesses. There are lots of fresh possibilities that come as a result of letting go and sprucing up.

In each post, I’m going to give you actionable advice to help you move forward this spring in your business.

Let’s turn our focus to your email inbox. This used to be a pain for me, as like you, I get a crazy amount of emails each day! But I found a system that works for me, and I use a couple great tools to help too.

Now, you may need to take an entire afternoon to do a deep clean of your inbox, but you could also take a few minutes each day to tidy it up too. This may mean deleting emails, unsubscribing from lists, filing emails or setting up folders or labels. If you do that, I promise that it will clean out some mental space, and it will make it so much more manageable.

Here are tools to help you claim control over your inbox:

1. If you’re like many entrepreneurs, you can’t count the number of email lists that you’re on. You can use Unroll.me to see a list of your subscriptions and then unsubscribe from what you no longer read or find useful. It’s a free tool (except that they want you to share on social media if you go past a certain number of subscribes). They also have a feature that I don’t use, but could be very helpful in minimizing the number of emails you receive and that’s to roll up your subscriptions into a daily digest. So you’re just getting 1 email a day rather that a bunch.

I didn’t think that I was on that many lists, but when I did it – I had 41 subscriptions!

You want to be careful about racking up the subscriptions. I know it’s tempting to think that you need to see what others are doing, or really there are so many people to learn from, but more information isn’t usually what you need. Be honest with yourself – are you actually reading the emails and are they useful to you? Start cleaning your inbox by unsubscribing from lists.

2. The next tool is a now a must-have for me! Boomerang is an extension for Gmail. With it, you’re able to compose messages to send later and clear out your inbox, but have key messages return at a later time that’s more convenient for you. It has helped me to reduce email overwhelm, which makes me more productive.

I’m able to clean out my inbox and have important emails boomerang back into my inbox at a specific day or time. You can even send it back to your inbox only if no one responds. Boomerang will archive the message. At the time you choose, it will bring it back to your inbox, marked unread, starred, or at the top of your message list.

3. Then in an effort to eliminate email communication, I recommend moving to a project management tool. I use Basecamp with my team and with several clients. I also use it as a parking lot for my ideas and organize my own priorities for myself in there too.

This works well even if your team is a very part-time Virtual Assistant or it’s just you. I like Basecamp because it’s very visual but I also recommend Asana if you’re looking for a free tool (it’s free up to 15 users).

Then what also works for me is that I have different emails set up, but you could do this within one email and apply filters:

1 for personal and subscriptions/notifications
1 for clients
1 for business purposes

This helps me to stay organized.

How many emails do you have in your inbox right now? In full transparency, I have 8 in my business email – which is pretty good for me. When was the last time you hit inbox zero?

If you have your email inbox under control, I suggest that you do a cleaning on social media. Going through and leaving Facebook groups that you’re not active in, or updating who you’re following on Twitter or Instagram.

 

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