Put a Stop to Your Inbox Managing Your Time

Don’t Know About You, But My Inbox Has Taken Control!

It’s Sunday night around 10:30 pm. I’m taking one last look at my inbox before the new week starts. “What??” I scream. “159 emails in my inbox? It can’t be!” But it was. It often is that and worse. And it’s out of control at my hand. I allow my inbox to control my time.

How do I let it happen? By subscribing to this newsletter and the next one. Each tells me they will make me a better writer. Don’t we all want to be better at our craft? But that’s not all I subscribe to. Tempt me with platform building, social media expertise, writing courses, how to topics for writers, and I’ll subscribe.

And there are the emails that come from places like WordPress (my platform here), BlueHost (my site host), Google+ and Google Business, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Hootsuite, MailerLite, and the list goes on. They all want to make me aware of improvements or upgrades to make their service better for me. And all of a sudden, I’m buried in unread emails.

What Do You to Regain Control of Your Inbox?

I turned to my friend Google to try to solve my problem. Perhaps a little reading (in my spare time!) on the subject of too many emails would help. What I learned is: Everybody has a system they want you to believe is the best system ever devised to keep your inbox empty. Okay, okay! Enough is enough! Everybody seems to have a solution to every problem.

Out of all the ideas Google coughed up, I decided I’m comfortable with the one I’m using currently. I’ll explain how it works below. But first, I want to say you need to be certain you want to make changes in your email handling before you start. Otherwise, it’s going to be a hard journey. Maybe some redoing and undoing, which could be more frustrating than what you experience now.

How I Manage My Inbox.

We have been Comcast customers for years now. Although we have our gripes and complaints, when they make a change we grumble and it serves us well anyway. One feature in the email service I appreciate is the ability to use colored flags. Below is a screenshot of my inbox showing several colored flags.

The flags you see denote the email’s status. Red means immediate attention required. The purple tags relate to book reviews coming up. Light blue is an indicator that this should be read before others when I have reading time. There are other colors in my “crayon box:” orange = urgent follow-up, and yellow = no urgency follow-up. Other colors are available but not in use.

When I sense my inbox is crowded and my “tenants” aren’t happy, I sort my emails by “color,” giving me an overview of what needs to receive my attention. If an email not flagged is more than 3 weeks old, I take a quick look and either delete it or file it away in one of my email folders (see above at left margin). Note the use of a hashtag (#) with the top folders under my folders. These folders represent emails I move routinely from inbox to folder without opening them.

This method works well for me. For it to work for you, your email provider must have a way for you to mark emails, such as the flags I use. If that is not the case, you’ll need to design another plan or use one from the links I provide below.

One of my biggest stumbling blocks.

Remember all those people I mentioned in the second paragraph above? The ones who have a better way to build a platform, want to teach you how to be a better writer, who have the latest greatest book on social media and how to manage it, and on and on.

It’s often tempting to subscribe to some of these people, especially when you’re in a low place and looking for an easy way to remedy a problem you’re having. After a while, you find yourself with this inbox stuffed like a turkey on Thanksgiving. Do yourself a favor. Get rid of the newsletters and emails that are not benefitting you as a writer. Use that “unsubscribe” link. If you’re not receiving information or material that enhances your writing life, save the action of deleting the email for another task.

Now to Some Potentially Helpful Links.

Declare Email Bankruptcy and Get a Fresh Start by Michael Hyatt

How to Manage Your Email for Inbox Zero by Gretchen Louise

How to Keep Your Inbox at Zero by Caitlin Muir

4 Tips to Better Manage Your Emails by Jacqueline Whitmore

Seven Ways to Manage Email So It Doesn’t Manage You by Jeff Weiner


Perhaps you have a method of keeping your inbox clean or managing so that it’s not managing you. If so, please share your methods with us in the comment section below.

 

 

 

Why I Chose Squarespace Over WordPress

Decisions are never easy, and decision making is not one of my favorite things. Likely most of us would rather avoid making choices or decisions.

After thoughtful consideration, a review of finances and costs, and use of time, I spent about three weeks hands-on determining whether to stay with WordPress or move to Squarespace.

In the end, Squarespace won out for a variety of reasons. The following is based on my experience using WordPress, both free and self-hosted versions. I believe each of these platforms is structured to the unique needs of the individual or business owner making the choice between the two.

COST

WordPress.com is free. Its self-hosted version, WordPress.org, is not. You have hosting fees, domain protections and registration, not all themes are free, and not all plugins are free. When you add all that up, Squarespace came out ahead.

It won’t cost me much more to work with Squarespace than it did with WordPress. Plus I don’t have to hire a web master or a host to keep me up and running. Squarespace takes care of that within my annual fee.

When you build a site with Squarespace, Squarespace is your web host. We provide a place on the Internet to display your content, in addition to tools for creating and managing that content. Every Squarespace site is stored on our servers, similar to how physical stores rent space in a shopping mall.


— Squarespace.com

SUPPORT

My biggest complaint with WordPress related most often to support. There were online forums where you could post your problem, and then hope for days someone would respond.

If you’re not into coding or don’t have funds to hire someone to maintain your site, Squarespace is your best option. Whenever I have needed support, the response time is usually within the work day, if not sooner. Not only are they responsive, the staff is knowledgeable, courteous, and extremely helpful.

SECURITY

Security probably should have been placed in the top spot. You may remember my post relating to my experience with hackers a few months ago. Someone else’s fun hacking into my site created not only stress for me but a financial outlay I’d rather not have had to make.

With Squarespace, security is uppermost in the minds of its owners and technical staff. With your site, you have, at no charge to you, two SSL-related layers of protection. Squarespace also provides you free backup of your site content. However, this doesn’t mean we as owners of our sites shouldn’t take extra precautions to keep those files backed up as well.

TIME

Unless you’re willing and able to pay a web designer, WordPress can cost you hours each month checking for updates to plugins and themes, watching for and resolving alerts for hacking and/or viruses, and sometimes just downtime. Downtime is generally based on the host you are using.

Since moving to Squarespace, I find that I have regained some of the hours spent with WordPress allowing me to write more and to have time to do other things I enjoy. And it’s costing me nothing financially.

EASE OF USE IN BLOGGING

Preparing and editing a blog post is as simple as drag-and-drop. Having used the Elementor plugin in WordPress, I can say I find this much easier to use to create my posts and pages. If I have an idea or question about something I’d like to incorporate that isn’t readily available or clear to me, a quick email or chat with support will help me get it done. (Support is available 24/7). 

THE MOVE

Moving from WordPress to Squarespace was next to seamless. A simple export process on the WordPress end to an import process at the Squarespace end, and everything except a bit of cleanup was done.

A word on the comment set up. I have not incorporated Disqus comments here for one reason and one reason only. When using Disqus on Squarespace, for some reason still unclear, I was unable to capture all the comments left for me on previous posts. Many of these were treasured comments for a variety of reasons. I realize that the necessity to login here and/or create another “account” may be bothersome for you. However, please note that you can leave a comment as a guest without creating an “account.” If this becomes an insurmountable problem for many of you, I will reconsider my decision to not incorporate Disqus and determine a way to save those comments from the past, if I can.


I hope something here has been helpful to you, or at least explanatory in nature as it relates to my move. Please bring any inconveniences or errors you encounter to my attention. It is true two sets of eyes are better than one.

Planning Ahead for 2015 While Building in Flexibility

If you read my last post on January 1, you know what happened to my 2014 goals. When I sat down to set out my goals for 2015, I kept in mind what last year did to my plans. I kept focused on what I committed to in that same post on January 1. My goals for 2015 are simpler and shorter than last year’s, beginning with a focus on the mandate I set for myself of facing frustrations and interruptions with flexibility.

Photo by ScottieT812 
Photo by ScottieT812 

While I will never meet the physical flexibility seen here, I realize I need more attention to flexibility during my daily scheduling.

Goals for 2015 include:

Goal #1:

As mentioned above, more flexibility in dealing with daily demands and schedules. I have more than writing to attend to each day: family relationships, preparing meals, household chores, laundry, errands, exercise, and professional reading.

In order to get these all done, I need to realize I cannot commit every day 100% to writing. In 2015, I intend to select one day from Monday through Friday and devote it to my book. The schedule will be kept free of distractions.

Goal #2: Thanks to the artists and writers cooperative where I had registered for a writing class held September-November, I will be able to restart that class in April. Surgery and recovery interrupted my attendance, and the group was fair in extending a large part of my registration fees to join back up in January or April. I chose April to ensure I was fully healed. Returning and finishing this class is important to me.

Goal #3: Work diligently at building platform as I anticipate completing, publishing and marketing my memoir. My newsletter has gained some momentum but not what I’d like to have seen so I need to educate myself on how to increase readership. I’m also leaning more toward using Twitter as my primary social media outlet, and I’ll need to come up to speed there. Sitting on a shelf nearby is the idea for another eBook for my newsletter subscribers, but that is not a definite goal for 2015.

Goal #4: With completion of the class addressed above, I hope to have finished the second draft of my memoir. It is my further hope that I will be able to work with my class instructor in finalizing that draft and readying it for editing and later publication. However, this is not a deadline item and will never be as there are too many changes that can occur in the editorial and marketing process.

Goal #5: In 2015, I want to increase my participation in this writing community I so thoroughly enjoy. My ability to get around and read every blog post has fallen by the wayside, and I’m looking to find a better method for reading and commenting on others’ work. I also want to continue my efforts in supporting other writers by reviewing their memoirs here and other genre on Goodreads and Amazon.

These are all the 2015 goals I intend to set out in black and white. As I said in my last post, there is only one me in each day I’m given and only so much time in that one day to work at the things calling my name. To attempt more would be the closest thing to implosion of a human I can think of at the moment.

I leave you with a quote from William Edgar Stafford, Poet Laureate of Oregon from 1975-1990:

I embrace emerging experience. I participate in discovery. I am a butterfly. I am not a butterfly collector. I want the experience of the butterfly.

Stafford’s words speak to the way I want to live 2015: emerging, discovering, experiencing.

How will 2015 play out for you? Have you set goals, made resolutions, or cast a list of to do’s in stone yet? Share how you’re forecasting your new year.

A Review of 2014 Goals | A Look Back Before Moving Forward

Photo by Wendy Longo photography 
Photo by Wendy Longo photography 

Last year at this time I set goals and not resolutions. At the time I established the goals, it seemed a long list for one human.

As I review that list now, it turns out those could not have been truer words.

Christmas Day 2013 found my husband in excruciating pain that would last until back surgery in March 2014. At the same time, what I thought was allergies turned out to be a respiratory problem with a long recovery time.

With Bob’s home chores falling to my shoulders as well as his health care and my own, the writing life seemed to disintegrate before my eyes.

About the time the dust began to settle, I had the opportunity attend the annual Willamette Writers Conference. Local Portland writer and teacher, Jennifer Lauck, author of Blackbirdand several other books, facilitated two of the sessions I attended. I had met Jennifer before but not in the workshop environment. Jennifer excited me with her mode of teaching, her excitement about the written word, and her palpable desire to help others achieve their dreams.

By the end of the next week, I had registered to take one of Jennifer’s upcoming classes at a local writers’ cooperative. I made it to two sessions, and a bomb dropped the last weekend in September. Pain I hadn’t experienced since spinal fusion riddled one side of my body. A multitude of tests showed no reason for the pain. I had to decide whether to continue the class or taking care of myself. The latter won out. Dropping out was a huge disappointment.

Finally we insisted on another test, and a diagnosis took me into surgery. I am recovering well, and I feel better than I did 18 months ago. That in itself is a bonus.

I share all this with you to underscore the truth of goal-setting, making resolutions, resolving to adhere to a set daily schedule and/or to do list: [tweetthis]A writer’s “other life” doesn’t always cooperate with the plans for the writing life.[/tweetthis]

Lesson learned: I am one person with one life with days presented to me singularly to accomplish what I can. When all the parts of my life and days gifted don’t mesh, I will attempt to be flexible and set frustrations aside knowing there will be tomorrow.

Based on this newly ingrained bit of wisdom, I will be setting goals for 2015 and selecting a word to focus on as I move forward through 2015 while remembering what 2014 has taught me.

What about you? What did 2014 teach you that will impact how you plan as a person and/or a writer for 2015?