After writing yesterday’s post, I am on a productivity kick!
So today, I wanted to continue the conversation about how to tackle your to-do list and share 3 tips for how to get to inbox zero.
When I share my screens at meetings, my coworkers are often amazed at how few emails I have in my inbox—and I promise it’s not because I have less work than they do! Getting to inbox zero is a regular occurrence for me—and I think it easily could be for you, too.
I feel a lot more in control of my life and what I have to get done when I have my inbox under control, and am always looking for new tips + tricks—so let me know if you have any great email hacks!
(A note that I manage my work, blog, and personal emails all the same way. I use Gmail for all three, so some of these recommendations are Gmail-specific.)
01. LEAVE ONLY EMAILS THAT NEED YOUR ATTENTION IN YOUR INBOX.
Yes, that’s right—leave only the emails that need your attention in your inbox.
If an email is FYI only, I skim it over, label it—I label everything because I am a #nerd, and then archive it.
If an email requires my response or someone asks me for a deliverable, I read it, label it, and leave it in my inbox until I have answered it or completed the task. Once I’ve typed my response and attached any necessary files, I send it using the send + archive button, which I’ve enabled on my Gmail to make it really easy to archive emails. You can read about how to enable that button in this tutorial.
But, Katie! I am worried about archiving an email that is time sensitive and may require my follow up or an email that was to someone notorious to not responding. How will I remember to follow up?
Enter: Boomerang for Gmail, aka my lifesaver.
Boomerang is a Chrome or Safari extension which will add a toolbar right below your send + archive button. When you send an email you might need to follow up on, all you have to do is check a box and select when you want that email to be “boomeranged” back to you if the person has not responded or opened that email by a time in the future you specify. You can set an exact date and time or select a more general time frame, such as tomorrow morning, two days from now, or a week from now.
Boomerang also allows you to schedule a recurring message, like a monthly timesheet reminder, and schedule emails to be sent at a later date.
On the free plan, Boomerang gives you 10 free emails a month, but I’ve found they really give you about 20. I upgraded to the Pro plan because I was using the service so much at work—it’s saved me so many times!
02. SIGN UP FOR UNROLL.ME.
I try really, really hard to not even end up on promotional email lists, but somehow, a few always sneak through—or I give out my email for the discount. But for my sanity, and my wallet, I am so glad I found Unroll.me.
Unroll.me allows you to see all of the subscription emails you’re enrolled it and easily unsubscribe, roll them up into a daily digest of all your promo emails, or leave them coming to your inbox as-is. It’s free and it’s been a lifesaver—especially for my blog email account.
03. LEVERAGE CANNED RESPONSES.
I recently got into the Gmail canned responses game, and it has saved me so much time. To enable canned responses in your account, follow this tutorial.
Essentially, a canned response allows you to easily insert a pre-saved email or section of one into the body of an email saving you from searching for it or re-writing it each time you need it.
For instance, on my blog, I receive many pitches that aren’t good fits for me, but since many brands are represented by PR agencies who have many clients, I try to always respond. As such, I have a canned response declining an opportunity that might not be the right fit, but asking them to please keep me in mind for future campaigns. I have another canned response to use when I am invited to an event that I can’t attend because of a prior commitment. At work, I do a lot of recruiting, which means sending the same emails to many different candidates—and canned responses literally saves me hours.
That wraps up my top three tips for wrangling my inbox!
Let me know our best tip in the comments below. x