May 9, 2012
On the one hand, if you don’t respond to your email right away, you’ll think about whatever it is while you’re supposed to be working on other things. On the other hand, once you’re in your inbox, you see every new email that comes in and you feel like you have to answer every single thing.
While email is an incredible tool that has streamlined communication and boosted productivity in many ways, it can also take total control of your time if you’re not careful.
This is exactly why I’m sharing these 5 ways to automate your email responsibilities. You really can save hours every week, and instead make your email work for you by using these tips.
If you use Gmail (that’s what I use and I highly recommend it), then you have a nifty tool called a filter. Other email programs have something similar.
Gmail’s filters literally do just that. Instead of witnessing your inbox overflow with incoming messages you can tell Gmail exactly which message to filter and automatically file away into a specific folder never entering your inbox. This way YOU decide when it’s time to view those particular messages.
For example: let’s say you subscribe to various e-zines. You love them all, but my gosh, when it comes to your inbox it’s like bright and shiny object syndrome on crack! All of these appealing headlines are speaking to you and the next thing you know hours flew by while you devoured every bit of the latest how-to trends. And guess what? All those lost hours just cost you money for time you should have been spending on generating income.
It’s happened to the best of us – And here’s how you fix it.
Setup an email folder called Articles (or whatever makes sense to you; you can even create sub-folders and separate out each e-zine)
Then go into Settings, and then Filters
Now, setup a filter for each e-zine. Make sure you check ‘skip the inbox’ and ‘apply to ___ messages’ that way all past and future emails for those e-zines will no longer appear in your inbox and instead only be found by clicking on that article folder you created.
Here’s the kicker. Schedule time to catch-up on your favorite e-zines. Maybe you spend an hour each day or only one day each week. That’s up to you.
You can do this filtering technique with any emails you choose. Just remember that if you click ‘skip the inbox’ you’ll have to go to the folder you chose to view all future emails. So, create a plan, then work the plan.
Set Boundaries with a Schedule
Do you arbitrarily check your email just to make sure you haven’t missed a new message?
Do you dive straight to your inbox every time you’re alerted?
If so, the first thing for you to address is a schedule. I learned this the hard way too.
Create a boundary to separate yourself from your beloved email for awhile.
Note: If you have not yet read the book Boundaries by Henry Cloud you should add it to your ‘to read’ list. It’s absolutely fantastic and the principles apply to any area of your life (self, work, family, spouse, etc.).
Here’s how you set boundaries with your email.
Literally add ‘check and respond to email’ to your calendar. Treat this like any other appointment. If you go over your allotted time, then it throws off the rest of your schedule just like any other appointment. You decide when, and for how long your email appointments should be. This is something you will have to play with, and adjust as needed.
Add a reminder to your appointment. I use Google calendar and for my ‘check email’ appointments, I have Google send a text message to my phone so that I know it’s time to stop what I’m doing and move onto checking email.
This is a great way to help you prioritize and also assess how much time you’re spending on various tasks. This will come in handy when you are ready to hire help down the road.
Set a Timer
If you find yourself stuck in the email trance and don’t know how to get out, set a timer. Use a kitchen timer or set a timer on your phone. When the timer goes off you’ll know it’s time to finish what you’re doing and move onto the next thing. A loud and intrusive alarm going off sure does the trick for me! And if you’re stuck in the email trance it’ll bring you back to earth.
Setup Auto Responders
If you’re worried that you’re going to miss something important during the times that you don’t check your email, setup an auto-responder. This way anyone that emails you during the times you’re not checking your email will automatically receive an email back stating whatever it is you want to say.
Here’s a sample message you can use: “I’m currently at an appointment and won’t be checking my email until ____. If this is urgent and you need to reach me before _____ please _____.” Fill in the blanks with your specific instructions.
By letting people know where you are and what to do in the meantime, there’s really no need to worry.
Ever send an email requesting more information? Then, you never hear back and after days go by you get busy and completely forget about it all together?
Boomerang is for you.
Boomerang is a magical, email add-on for Gmail or outlook. Think about what an actual toy boomerang does – you throw it like a Frisbee only it reaches a point where it redirects itself to come right back to you.
This Boomerang works the same way. It allows you to ‘boomerang’ your emails so that you receive a reminder to follow-up.
It also lets you schedule a date and time to have any outgoing email messages sent.
You can also use boomerang to archive a message and then have it reappear back in your inbox at a later time of your choosing.
Efficiency Coach, Tifanie Lake, helps solo entrepreneurs like you leverage the web to accelerate outrageous productivity. Learn how your 1 person business can grow and enjoy more free time than you ever thought possible, even when you don’t yet have an assistant. Watch the weight overwhelm melt away. Grab your FREE Efficiency Toolbox for Solopreneurs at http://www.realefficientsolutions.com