Productivity & Your Full Email Inbox

If you had 14 hours per week to work on your online business and you spent 10 of those hours wading through your emails, you’d probably find yourself getting nowhere quickly, no matter how many coaching programs you signed up for and no matter how many eBooks or free bonuses you downloaded.

Email Management

If you had 14 hours per week to work on your online business and you spent 10 of those hours wading through your emails, you’d probably find yourself getting nowhere quickly, no matter how many coaching programs you signed up for and no matter how many eBooks or free bonuses you downloaded.

If you have been involved in Internet Marketing for any length of time, you may have signed up for quite a few newsletters and email lists by now. Your morning inbox might even be 75% full of promotional emails and offers.

Here are a few techniques you can use to help you keep the email monster under control.

  1. If the emails you are receiving from a particular source aren’t useful or necessary, unsubscribe. (Note: Don’t click “spam” on an email when you have actually subscribed to someone’s list. This essentially acts as a report against the person who is emailing you.  Just unsubscribe.)
  2. If necessary, go through your recent mail once a month, and unsubscribe from any which aren’t really useful.
  3. Most important – use Gmail.
  4. Forward emails from each of your email addresses to your Gmail account.
  5. Set Gmail up to answer all of your emails from within your Gmail account but using the “from” address of your choice. In Gmail, go to Accounts -> “Send Mail As”.  This allows you to handle all of your email traffic from one account.
  6. Gradually train your Gmail account to label all of your incoming messages according to subject, from address, etc.  To do this, click on an email message, then go to “More Actions” -> “Filter Messages Like These,” and follow instructions from there.
  7. Important – When your inbox reaches the overwhelming stage, use the filter as in #6 above to set some types of email to skip your inbox. This includes emails which are not vital for immediate attention, such as newsletter subscriptions, promotional emails, etc.
  8. Keep emails which would require immediate attention or handling in your inbox – including anything which could have bad consequences if ignored, such as personal contacts, financial information, etc.
  9. Use the “Star” function as is most workable for you. When I encounter an email which is interesting but does not require immediate action, and I want to go back to it later, I archive and star it. This allows me to handle the priority and vital emails first and go back to my “Star” folder when I have more time.
  10. Streamline your filters. For example, you can have a label for “Subscriptions,” “Favorite Subscriptions,” and “Unwanted.” Unwanted includes emails which you can not unsubscribe from but which you don’t want to read or see. It is not common but it does happen.
  11. Do not allow yourself to spend so much time on email that you omit to get vital work done. Have a priority list of tasks that must be accomplished today, this week, daily, weekly, etc. Until those are done, handle only vital and priority emails. When your most vital tasks are under control, you might have some leisure time to window-shop the latest promotions and read your subscriptions.
  12. If necessary, set aside a time each day when you allow yourself to look at non-vital emails, and allocate the rest of your online “business hours” to your other projects.  Discipline yourself on keeping these separate and not multi-tasking them.
  13. A final note – I consider answering personal emails to be top priority. By “personal emails” I mean emails that were individually written by a human being, not subscriptions or automated messages. Whether it is a friend or a business contact. People become upset when you don’t answer their personal emails and this can hurt your business, as well as other aspects of your life, in the long run.

These steps may not comprise a perfect solution, and there is a lot more that can be said about this subject – there are support desk software solutions, macros which help you answer emails more quickly, etc. The above consists of some basics which anyone can implement to start off with, if you haven’t already.

In my opinion, an inbox is like a dragon – a thousand stories can and probably have been written on how to tame this savage beast. Be willing to constantly streamline your system without dedicating your life to it either.

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21 Responses to “Productivity & Your Full Email Inbox”

  1. Reisefreak
    March 31, 2009 at 9:30 am #

    Normaly I prefer email management, but sometimes calls are handy, or messenger tool programs are useful too.

    Reisefreaks last blog post..Wellnessurlaub

  2. Rotwein
    March 31, 2009 at 12:19 pm #

    nroamly i use msn or icq for my business but for starting an contact with somebody i use most times email. over my site the people come to me.

    Rotweins last blog post..Cabernet-Sauvignon

  3. Reisender
    April 1, 2009 at 10:49 am #

    “Use the “Star” function as is most workable for you. When I encounter an email which is interesting but does not require immediate action, and I want to go back to it later, I archive and star it. This allows me to handle the priority and vital emails first and go back to my “Star” folder when I have more time.”

    i never used the star yet , because i didn’t know what the star is for and what for functions the star has but im not sure i ll use it because it could be confusing to me.

    Reisenders last blog post..Vilmnitz Reise, bedeutende Sehenswürdigkeiten in Vilmnitz

  4. reisehans
    April 2, 2009 at 12:25 pm #

    “A final note – I consider answering personal emails to be top priority. By “personal emails” I mean emails that were individually written by a human being, not subscriptions or automated messages. Whether it is a friend or a business contact. People become upset when you don’t answer their personal emails and this can hurt your business, as well as other aspects of your life, in the long run.”

    i use an final noe always to give the users me an respond and to tell me their opinion about me.

  5. Biofreund
    April 2, 2009 at 10:56 am #

    i use sometimes messenegr like these too for my business they are very handy, but to stay on an real quality is email the best way to have contact to contacts.

    Biofreunds last blog post..Rockband für Events und Hochzeit

  6. Sam M@ Real Online Money Making Strategies
    April 2, 2009 at 10:58 am #

    Excellent post about productivity. I saw a similar article at an internet marketing website that said to unsubscriber from mailing list owned by internet marketers so you can concentrate more with your internet marketing efforts. I only check my email once a day and after that I don’t check unless there is some kind of emergency. Got to stay product and work towards goals if you want to succeed 😉

    Sam Ms last blog post..“Xtreme Article Marketing 2009″ Finally Released!!

  7. Stylist
    April 3, 2009 at 11:39 am #

    Normaly I prefer email management, but sometimes calls are handy, or messenger tool programs are useful too.

  8. Forest
    April 3, 2009 at 2:28 pm #

    Awesome post Anna, I had not looked into the Gmail functions too much and the training labels looks great and much needed for me…. I still wish they would introduce folders as an extra option….

    Forests last blog post..8 Easy Steps to Move A WordPress Blog

  9. Reisefreund
    April 3, 2009 at 10:02 am #

    i prefer normaly icq but sometimes i use messenger like yahoo too but often is an normal email needed too.

  10. Anna
    April 4, 2009 at 12:16 am #

    Hi Forest, thank you. I have to tell you – I stayed away from Gmail for years because it didn’t have folders. Then one day I realized I was an idiot. My sister actually showed me how to use it. The point to remember is that Gmail is more “Tag & Search Based.” But look at it this way – the labels are just like folders You don’t drag and drop. You just pull down the dropdown menu to “apply label.” But you can assign Gmail to automatically label emails from certain addresses/subject lines as they come in. So after you read it, you just hit “achive” and it files it away, removes it from your inbox, and returns you to your inbox, all in one go. Might sound small, but it makes a BIG difference when you have an inbox the size of a sales letter. lol.

    Also as I said you can tell Gmail to automatically label and archive certain emails, so they never hit your inbox. I use that to try to reserve my inbox for vital emails. When I have time to read the days promotions and subscriptions, I just click on my “subscriptions” label, or Gmail’s “All Mail” folder.

  11. Anna
    April 4, 2009 at 12:16 am #

    @ reisehans – The star is pretty easy to use. You just add a star to an email and it puts it in the “Starred” folder. Simple as that. Just try it.

  12. Anna
    April 4, 2009 at 12:20 am #

    @ Same – Thank you, I’m glad you liked it. 🙂 I think its often the little things like this which go a long ways. I know what you mean about unsubscribing. I eventually chose a compromise. I unsubscribe from stuff which is just totally useless. On other subscription emails, I just set them to skip the inbox and go to “subscriptions” so that I do have the option to check on them. I would miss out on some very useful information otherwise – and yes some great deals too! Another thing I have done is use my RSS Reader to be notified of new blog posts on many blogs, instead of subscribing by email. The problem is that then I tend to forget to check my Reader! So I keep my favorites in email … its all a matter of balancing things out I suppose 🙂

  13. Normal Joe
    April 5, 2009 at 6:57 pm #

    Great advice Anna, I agree totally! I have most of my email forwarded to one account and can reply to them separately from the same account.

    I had one that I didn’t forward and I missed a couple of personal emails, I was so upset! You are right, missing personal emails can mess up your relationships.

    Staying organized and productive but managing email properly will add much more productive time to your day. Trust me, I know it lol.

    Normal Joes last blog post..Take a look inside T3leads.com with Normal Joe as your guide

  14. Mark Sierra at MeAndMyDrum.com
    April 6, 2009 at 5:55 am #

    Very good advice, Anna. I’ve taken a firmer look at the emails I subscribe to. I have two criteria to judge them by: 1) content and 2) frequency.

    If the content is poorly written or just not that informative, then I have better things to do. But the frequency at which the emails come from one sender is really what sets me off. Daily emails are stupid. Nobody has time to read that many emails from about X topic.

    So I’ve said “buh-bye” to quite a few who fail my test. Doing so has made my inbox (and my time) a little more manageable. 🙂

    Mark Sierra at MeAndMyDrum.coms last blog post..Do You Expose Yourself As An Affiliate Marketer?

  15. Anna
    April 7, 2009 at 10:56 am #

    @ Mark – I agree. In fact I don’t understand why some people send so many emails … I wonder how they get away with it! It insults my schedule. Do they think I have nothing to do?? Well, obviously, they don’t! But that doesn’t mean I don’t …

    Its great to clear out the inbox, isn’t it? I’ve been following my own advice, and taking the steps I mention in this post, lately. When I wake up in the morning and check my email now, I feel confused for a moment. And then I remember … freedom! I don’t even unsubscribe from everything. I just have the subscriptions go into another inbox. And I do scan through that box as well later. But I don’t have to archive and sort them all or try to find my important emails amongst all the ruckus. So it works much much better.

  16. Jake
    April 17, 2009 at 7:23 am #

    Nice tips… I’ve never gotten into using Gmail… my provider offers 8 email accounts so currently that’s plenty to keep things sorted out for me by using the “rules” option and having emails go to their own folder…

    it can be overwhelming though as you have said…

  17. admin
    April 17, 2009 at 9:46 am #

    @ Joe – Hey what the ___ was your comment doing in my spam queu Joe? I only saw it now. Hi there! Yeah this email business gets way out of hand. And I agree – the worst is when you are so drowning in all kinds of god-knows-what, that you miss emails from your real friends. I’m training all my subscription stuff not to land in my inbox anymore. I still check it. But this way, I can actually see my inbox and what’s in there, and not miss important things.

  18. admin
    April 17, 2009 at 9:47 am #

    @ Jake – Thank you for the feedback. I don’t know what system you have but its important to have one – and a good one. Otherwise it can take over your life!

  19. Lorren Van Fossen@Hawaii MLS
    October 8, 2009 at 6:46 am #

    Gmail is the best internet email service. I think it’s most important to keep important emails & unsubscribe others. Gmail is user friendly & i have never received spam email in my inbox, it automatically delivers spam to junk mail folder. I am using filters & my personal emails goes direct to the folder i have created to save personal emails.

  20. Anna
    October 12, 2009 at 10:04 am #

    @Lorren Van Fossen – I agree. Gmail has been a lifesaver for me, especially after I took a bit of time to explore its settings and possibilities. I use Gmail for all of my emails now, and give and receive emails from all of my accounts, through Gmail.

    Gmail also allows forwarding for free, in case you decide to change your email address, which other free email accounts don’t offer.
    .-= Anna´s last blog ..Why I Haven’t Posted and the Elephant Who Draws Better than Me =-.

  21. zivame coupons
    December 3, 2013 at 8:39 pm #

    Thanks for share informative post with us. I love to use gmail because it’s functionality’s are easy to navigate.

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