Tools for Managing Your Email

I went to this cool productivity conference a couple of weeks ago, hosted by Steve Dotto. Lots of good speakers and information.

Productivity is a big issue for most of us. We don’t have enough time in the day to get done what we need to get done, so how do we make the most of our time to get things done??

My business runs on email. That might surprise you, knowing that a great deal of my business is about social media. And it’s true–I spend a lot of time on Facebook and Twitter, and writing blog posts. But when it comes to rubber-hits-the-road paid work? It’s happening on my email.

When you’re self-employed, and you don’t have a boss breathing down your neck and saying “did you get that thing done I needed you to get done??” there’s an extra layer of responsibly.  If something doesn’t get done, I only have myself to blame. So, I have systems in place to make sure I don’t miss anything.

Gmailing Luke Skywalker Stéfan via Compfight

Here’s how I manage my inbox:

I go through and sort every single email in my inbox about every 24 hours. This is a system I put in place about 3 years ago after reading David Allan’s Getting Things Done. I wrote about the system I have here and very little has changed in the last three years! The main difference is that now I use gmail instead of Apple mail. I made the transition after getting an iPhone. I didn’t want to have to deal with syncing, etc., and because gmail is a web-based email program, I always have access to it, and it’s always up-to-date. It just works better for me than a desktop program.

I only use my phone for “email triage.” I love my iPhone. But I’m not a fan of returning emails on it. It’s small, it’s hard to type on… I don’t have easy access to my files. So I use my iPhone to check my email, but I only respond to emails that are urgent and require an immediate response. Otherwise, I wait until I’m back at my computer.

Boomerang stuff that you need to deal with later. Every day, I have to set priorities -what tasks am I going to focus on finishing today? I’m the kind of person that works better under a deadline, so often if a project is deadline-driven, it’s going to move up the priority ladder. If the deadline is next week, I use a tool called Boomerang to re-send me that email closer to the day.

Disconnect from your social networking and turn off your chat. For me to really get things done, I need to focus and minimize distractions. Dissertations like… oh, the latest cute cat video, or getting engaged in a conversation with a friend online. It’s really easy to do–it happens to me all the time. Think of Facebook as a reward for getting your work done. 🙂

For more great info an tips on managing your time and being more productive, check out Mike Vardy’s The Productivityist.

What’s your favorite “email, you will not defeat me today!” tip?  


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Rebecca Coleman

Social Media Marketing Strategist, Blogger, Author, Teacher, Trainer. Passionate foodie, mom to Michael, fueled by Americanos. I love my bike. Soon-to-be cookbook author. Localvore with a wanderlust.

Comments 4

  1. Good tips Rebecca, thanks! I’ve never tried Boomerang. Sounds similar to features found in Mailbox. I find being able to file something quickly until a later date of my choosing is great way to prioritize that mess of an inbox.

  2. I have two good tips:
    -I have a lot of good pro-d reading like yours that easily gets me sidetracked. I now have it go directly into a “To Read” file and once a day, use my down time to read it and enjoy.
    -Our receptionist did an online Outlook time management course. Afterward, she disabled her email notification so it doesn’t distract her. Only email from our Executive Director triggers a notification. She cleans the in-box every couple of hours

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