Personal Development

11 Steps to Own Your Inbox

If you get too much email and you want to get to inbox zero, this will help.

In the last few weeks I’ve received variations of this question from several clients…

“Craig, my inbox is so slammed with emails that I forget to reply to people and I drop the ball on projects… But you always get back to me… quickly… how the heck do you do it?”

I use a multi-step plan that highly depends on sending as few emails as possible.

A key lesson: Your output results in your input.

If you send a lot of emails, you’ll get a lot of emails. One step to fixing this is replying less.

But there are many things to do…

Turn these action items into email habits and you’ll soon make more time for what matters.

a) Do NOT reply to a dead thread

Stop saying “you’re welcome” when someone says “thank you”

Be ruthless with fewer replies. This is the #1 change you must make.

b) Treat email like a fax…

Imagine you had to get up, walk over to a fax machine, and send your email… you’d send less.

Count to 10 before you press send…Is it really worth it?

c) Put all non-urgent emails into a “Friday folder”…

Then check it Friday… by then most of these emails will not be worth replying to

So you don’t have to! Problem solved.

d) Unsubscribe from as many newsletters, alerts, etc.

And have all receipts etc go automatically to another admin email or specific folder. This keeps your inbox clear.

e) Manage What’s Measured

Use screen time or other app (like Rescue time) to monitor how much time you spend in your email and work to reduce that each week

Pro Tip: Get accountability from your coach!

f) The Ludicrous Tip: Rollll Up

When replying to someone who has sent multiple emails… roll up all of your answers into one email rather than replying individually… Also, save your reply in a draft and send one email at end of day before logging off rather than multiple emails throughout the day

g) Play a Status Game

Make it publicly known that you are too busy for email, and that people should send you fewer but longer emails, and that if you don’t reply it’s not because you didn’t see the email but because there was no reason for you to reply

h) Use NNTR – no need to reply

Start putting NNTR at the end of emails to stop the email chain The first time you use it add the definition beside it.

i) When “scheduling” a time to talk

If you want to have a call with someone, do NOT ask them “what time works for you?” Instead, ask them to send 5 specific times and days that work for them, or send them to your calendar link, or send them 3-5 specific times that work for you

j) Ban “being cc’d”

And use a cattle prod on anyone that unnecessarily cc’s you on an email…  And use a cattle stun gun on anyone that continues to cc you on an email chain. Kidding!

There’s nothing worse in Email-Land than getting 6 follow up emails from someone after I have introduced them to another person. Just take me off the thread for the love of God, haha! ????

k) Cue Up Emails for Later

I almost forgot this tip…I schedule most of my emails to go out at a time when I know the other person will be offline. That way the recipient won’t immediately send back a reactionary reply.

Sometimes I do the reverse… scheduling the email for when I’m not online… so if the person does reply immediately, I won’t see it.  I just choose whichever is most convenient for me.

L) Train someone to be you

My assistant Lynda has access to my email… she can go in and sort my emails (she knows where to put them based on priority)… she moves my client emails (without reading the confidential material)… she can reply to admin emails… she can delete the junk that manages to get through

I’m boring and Lynda is a trusted ally… there’s no risk to me in giving her email access. If you don’t feel that way about putting someone in charge of your email, something needs to change.


Bottom Line:

Your inbox is your responsibility. If you get a lot of email it’s because you ask for it! If you want fewer emails, then implement as many of these tips as possible. And if you want to tell me a reason why these tips won’t work… fine… but stop complaining about how much email you get. ????

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