Email is the preferred form of business communication, but that doesn't mean it should get unruly. Here's how to take back your inbox.
Can you imagine what it would be like to work without email?
This preferred form of communication is both a blessing and a curse, as practically every professional knows. Though there are plenty of tools that claim to eliminate email from your daily routine, the fact remains that it's not going anywhere.
You can't run your business entirely without email, but that doesn't mean you should let it control your day.
We asked 11 business owners from YEC to share their best tips for staying in control of your inbox. Their answers are below.
I make it a point not to look at email all of the time. I give it focused time and attention at specific times during the week so I can get through email in a thoughtful way. Of course, I glance at it a few times during the day to make sure I'm not missing anything urgent. But, I've tamed the urge to be constantly checking and responding to email. – Jennifer Benz, Benz Communications
Related Article: You've Got Mail: 13 Time-Saving Email Hacks for the Entrepreneur
2. Specific Departments Filters
I found email to be far more manageable once I created relevant, specific departments in my business for email to flow through. If all of your email is picked up through one central channel, it clogs up the system and delays response times internally and externally, which results in a stressful environment for all involved. This approach also helps to define specific roles for your staff. – Alex Miller, PosiRank LLC
On an average day I can get over 200 emails that I have to respond to. Sanebox has absolutely made my life easier and helped filter out the important and urgent emails versus the ones that can be delayed a little while longer. – Sean Ogle, Location 180, LLC
4. Mailbox by Dropbox
Inbox zero feels amazing. Mailbox was the first company to create a mobile app that helps you get to inbox zero. I was one of their early adopters and still remain a huge fan of the product. – Jonny Simkin, Swyft
5. Inbox Pause
We live within email; we have accounts across the NBA, MLB and other leagues, as well as in big corporations, and we need to be responsive in email. I often find myself managing my day by my inbox: if an email pops up, I try to answer it. Inbox Pause is a Gmail plug-in that halts new email from entering your inbox. With email "paused" I'm able to focus on the most important work. –Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches
6. Boomerang and Boomerang Calendar for Gmail
Boomerang for Gmail offers two great chrome extensions for Calendar and Email domination. Send an email later: Scheduling emails was a key feature when I used to use Outlook, Boomerang makes this possible for gmail. Reminders when you don't hear back: Ever send an email and forget to follow-up? I used to do it all the time. Boomerang also helps with this. You can also snooze emails for later. This helps keep you at inbox zero. – Peter Sena, Digital Surgeons
HelpScout is a great tool for organizing your emails. You can add notes, see previous emails from the same person, create different workflows, have canned responses and so much more. I highly recommend it! – Syed Balkhi, OptinMonster
8. Amy: My Artificial Intelligence
Because of Amy I have eliminated all correspondence having to do with organizing from my inbox! Amy, my dynamic and funny assistant, coordinates client visits, schedules coffee and plans conference calls. After copying Amy into an email she takes charge of the planning, taking me off copy for all the back and forth. Her intelligence has learned my habits, favorite meeting spots and travel habits. – Kim Kaupe, ZinePak
9. Other Communication Systems
My company refers to itself as a "no email company." Now, that's not entirely true, but between using Basecamp for project management with clients and Slack for all internal communications, the only use for email is to field outside inquiries. This keeps us from getting log-jammed in our inboxes and keeps communication clear and organized day to day. – Matt Cheuvront, Proof Branding
It started to get difficult to manage our conversations as well as having to go back and find specific emails, attachments, or other pertinent information. So we began to use DropTask, which allowed us to add duties and objectives while still allowing the basic functions of email. The software allows us to send notifications, chat and also attach files just like an email platform would. – Kumar Arora, Aroridex, Ltd.
11. A Personal Email Policy
This is advice I took from The 4 Hour Work Week book by Tim Ferriss. Set a policy using limited auto-responders to share that you will only check emails twice a day (11 a.m. and 4 p.m.) for increased productivity and to call for anything that requires immediate attention. This approach helps to eliminate instant responses and enables the sender to seek out solutions on their own, thus reducing your emails. – Souny West, CHiC Capital