Inbox Zero with the help of these tools

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Inbox Zero with the help of these tools

Email… is the bane of most people’s life. Have a few hours off and you can end up with tens or hundreds of emails in your inbox. It can then take time to go through these and sort the urgent from the non urgent and even longer to ensure that you have replied to all of the messages that needed to be replied to. It can be a nightmare and with my many inboxes, I was looking for a way to sort this out for myself.

I started to think about this at the beginning of December and just over a month later, the system seems to be working. My inbox doesn’t go above more than 40 emails at once now and that is usually when I wake up. Here are the tools I use to help me keep my inbox under control and maximize productivity. I can safely say that I spend less time on email now than I ever have.

Streak CRM – Free

Streak is a super cool platform. You can do a lot with it such as mail merge and using it as a traditional CRM however that isn’t the best feature. The best feature of Streak is the SNOOZE button. This is awesome, as it allows you to archive an email and choose when it pops up, be this later in the same day say 8PM or first thing in the morning such as ‘Tomorrow at 8AM’. This is extremely powerful as you can use it to remind you of an email which should have been actioned and then follow up if it wasn’t. You can also choose to only snooze if nobody replies, this means that if someone replies the snooze function will cancel.

You will see that my most used functions are either for a task to do before I sleep set for 11:30PM, next morning or later in the same day for those urgent things. The power of this snooze function means that nothing will linger in your inbox. Need to see the email later to check if it was done, snooze it. It’s gone. One less email to worry about! Streak is free for this function, they do have some paid features but for the purpose of keeping your email clean, this works perfect.

Google Gmail Groups

If you have a Gmail business account then the groups is something which is pretty powerful. It lets you create a group account such as all@ email address. You can then configure which people will receive this email or if you want it to go to all the people in your Google business account. Running a startup requires quick focus and delegation. There are a million things to do in the day and if you can palm any of these off to your team then you should. With Google Groups we were able to do this. Creating a group for each of the departments in the organization makes it simple for me. If I get an email which needs some action but I don’t have time for it, I’ll forward it to the relevant group. The relevant group will then receive it and whoever is free at that moment can claim the task and work on it.

This system is super simple, once one of my team pick it up, they’ll reply to the same group that they have this covered and then will work on it. I set it so that I will receive the replies and once I see someone has said they will work on it, I can immediately delete the email from my inbox. One less email, one happy inbox! Some SaaS exists for task management but for those quick to do tasks, I don’t see a more effective way than this, the team can see exactly the context in the email and know what needs to be done. Simple!

Organized Folders in GMail

This is pretty basic but anyone who knows me, knows that my mind seems to wander quite quickly. This means that my scrappy inbox was a complete mess. There was no structure to it and all the emails were in the inbox. Now I have structured all of this beautifully which is quite unlike me. This means that I can quickly move emails to the relevant folders to keep them if I need to. An example would be receipts for all SaaS services, I can now move these to ‘Billing’ immediately, taking them out of my inbox.

Being ruthless with your email is super important and making it fit into one of the folders you set up is also important. Got to think of your inbox like your wardrobe, you should be able to find all your clothes easily just like you should be able to find all your emails. Using folders takes emails out of your inbox and keeps that overall number down. Once it is done, you can be so much more productive with your email.

That’s the basics covered

This is what I have done over the past month and I like the results, there is no build up of emails. Everything is actioned immediately from me which needs to be cutting down the time it remains unread or just lingering. If an email can be actioned within a minute, there is no reason to keep it longer. Send that message and get rid of it. The less time you spend on email, the more time you can spend growing your business. Keeping your inbox under control and catching emails as soon as they arrive increases your response time and kills the process of getting sidetracked or thinking too much about a particular email.

As the business continues to grow I’ll be experimenting with some triggers from Zapier and look at setting up some automation so that when I send an email to a particular folder it triggers something to happen, this will be super powerful and I can see how it can potentially help us automate certain messages that we get a lot or even send instructions that need to be said. Email is a pain in the ass but essential and definitely not going anywhere anytime soon.

stuartl

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