Inbox beastHave you ever groaned in despair at the thought of having to find an email you kind of remember the subject of? You’re in the middle of something and you need that particular bit of information. You know the info is in THERE.

With a heavy heart you head over to your inbox. You know it was from James, but which email address did he use? His work one, Gmail, or was it a sharing invitation?

Whilst you’re in there you notice an email from your mum. It’s Aunty Mary’s 70th, better just send a quick yay or nay to that, and wait what’s this offer from {insert name of guru}? CLICK.

Bleugh, what a total time suck.

I posted recently about my #1 cardinal sin, if we’ve been together a while now you’ll know that I am on a mission to stop people I care about (you) from using their inboxes as to do lists.

I get why it happens, truly I do. Everything is in there already, right? So why move it around and create extra systems? Because, babes, EVERYTHING is in there!

What’s the big deal?

I’m not the anti-email police for no reason, (apart from the uniform 😉 ). An overloaded inbox::

  • Makes it harder to find info right when you need it
  • Means having to differentiate between what’s priority and what’s not, every single time you go in there
  • More easily creates distractions from emails that are less important
  • Brings on feelings of overwhelm which is one of the biggest causes of procrastination
  • Wastes time because of all of the above reasons
  • All of these prevents email being the useful communication tool that is was created for and can be!

Phase one: How to make this work for you

First off, you need to start some good habits. Here are my 5 top tips for managing the time you spend in your inbox

  1. Don’t fire it up first thing & start your day in your email. Before you know it, you’re 2 hours into your day and still fighting fires (or replying to less essential emails)
  2. Don’t keep your inbox open all day – espesh when focussed on time and brain intensive or creative projects. You simply can’t focus with one eye on your ever expanding inbox. Fact.
  3. Turn off notifications, because trying to ignore that little icon by willpower alone is just asking for trouble.
  4. Create ‘time containers’ in your schedule to deal with important emails. Blocks of time to speed through your inbox. And when the time is done, it’s done.
  5. Unsubscribe from email updates that you don’t read regularly. Have a massive cleanse, if you miss getting the emails you can subscribe again. I’d wager you won’t even remember most of them.

Phase two: Tools to help you

Once you’re outta your inbox, you need to replace it with something.

Here are the tools we use at HQ to keep on top of our tasks and projects and, just as importantly, stay in touch with each other.

Slack

This little tool will save your sanity. It’s not just that it keeps you out of your emails, it also has a wicked search function for files or messages – no more lost attachments, hello dedicated team communication.

Trello

For bigger projects and long term plans we hit up my old fave Trello. For those of you who don’t know it, it’s like the online version of Post it notes on a whiteboard.

Organised by person or project you have total flexibility on assigning tasks and moving through the stages of a project.

And, because we like that kind of thing, Trello also integrates with Slack.

It’s not just for teams

If you don’t have a team yet, I’d still love you to test out these systems. That way when you do start working with someone the handover will be SEAMLESS. (More on that here, if you need it).

It could be  that  you’re having your website re-done, working with a contractor or freelancer, same thing. Even if it’s temporary, keep it all in one, easily shareable, easily findable place. Less headaches, more productivity.

And, that’s not all (I know, I’m like the gift that keeps on giving, right?!) if you’ve been well behaved, used the tools, stayed the hell outta your inbox but your to do list is still giving you nightmares – try my Speed Dating method to blast through it. You’re welcome.

Over to you

I love any time and productivity hacks, what do you use in your biz? Hit me up in the comments below and let us know.

Still figuring all this out? Whether you feel like you’ve tried everything and nothing works or you don’t know where to start, book yourself a Chemistry call with me (it’s free). Together we’ll look at the ways you can streamline your business and get your life back.