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.