I hate email.
There, I said it.
Something about receiving four new messages while I’m still responding to the first one I opened makes me feel overwhelmed. When I feel overwhelmed I don’t do my best work. Period.
While having an inbox overflowing with work and requests is what I dreamed of for years, I have to admit there comes a point where you feel like a slave to email. This was the case for me not long ago. Not just to my business account but my personal one as well. See, since I’d been doing everything by myself for a while the lines between personal and business inboxes got blurry. This resulted in a hot ass mess.
Even after I brought Lynn on as my VA to help with stuff I still felt totally controlled by email. It was as if I had a major case of email FOMO, perpetually afraid that I would miss an email from a client or a deal would fall through.
I tried limiting my email intake to twice a day and that didn’t even work. I still found myself in my inbox for hours despite the fact that I’d hired someone to help with it.
A few months later and I’m proud to say that I’m quite recovered in the email overwhelm department. In fact, I rarely check my business email anymore, unless I’m alerted that there’s something in there I need to check out. When I was in New Orleans for the Financial Blogger Conference I didn’t even check it once and I’m pretty sure I’ve only checked it about twice since then.
Below you’ll find my tips so you too can break the chains of email.
Delegate, delegate, delegate…and then delegate some more.
I’ve said many times that I’m a recovering control freak. I like to do things by myself. Even at my old job I’d find myself doing three people’s jobs. Knowing this about myself I asked my VA, Lynn, to call me out if she ever noticed that I was going overboard with doing stuff.
With time I’ve gotten used to delegating almost all email correspondence and scheduling to her. If there is something that needs my attention she’ll let me know so I can go check it out. Or, if she can answer it but has a question she just shoots me a message on Basecamp or Facebook.
This does two things. First, I handle the most important emails (and only the most important emails). Second, if I know what I need to see beforehand I can go in there, get it done and be out in a few minutes. This allows me to move on to more important things like client calls, client work and creating the next offering.
I personally use Streak for Gmail to save email templates that I use over and over again. You can also schedule emails to go out later. I’ve heard Boomerang is great for this too, I just haven’t actually used it myself. (Also, Streak is free.)
The point is to get yourself an app that allows you to save time. No more writing emails from scratch. No more copying and pasting. No more having to go to your inbox every time you need to send something at a later date.
Let go of the email FOMO.
Look, it can be easy to get caught up in the idea that if we don’t have our finger on our email at all times that the world will somehow implode on itself. It’s bullshit.
If you experiment with letting go of your obsessive need to check your email you’ll notice that most of the stuff that comes in doesn’t need to be handled right away. This is more mental than anything else, but it’s probably the most difficult part.
Instead of having all your emails just sitting there start using folders and filters to organize them. Here are just a few of the folders that Lynn and I have set up for the business email:
Once we’re done handling the email in the main inbox we move it over to it’s corresponding folder. We may not actually have inbox zero, but it sure as hell looks like it.
Practice Email Essentialism
Essentialism is a term coined by author Greg McKeown. It is the art of letting go of the trivial many for the important few. It’s something I’ve been trying to do as my business grows and it’s definitely made a difference when it comes to email.
For example, my VA stars the items I specifically need to deal with. The rest can wait. Additionally, I’ve learned to prioritize growing my business over email. When I was undergoing a content audit, for instance, I was very clear on the fact that I had to work on that first before dealing with email correspondence.
Any tips for dealing with email?
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