Running your own business inevitably means there are so many different things demanding your attention. A lot of those things can be delegated to your to-do list and organised, but one area that does trip a lot of business owners up is their email inbox. When it comes to demanding attention, that little visual and auditory notification that lets you know you have a new email, is right up there! And for many, it’s something that has trained us to react instantly to – and it’s simply letting your inbox overwhelm you.
But the good news is, it doesn’t have to be that way! You can take back control of your time and your inbox, by following these easy tips.
Close your email program and switch off notifications!
OK, this one is one of the hardest tips to follow. But remind yourself, it only feels hard because you’re used to instantly reacting! So train yourself out of that habit. Switch off all notifications and close your email program. If you want to stop getting overwhelmed, you need to take control – and that starts with this first tip.
Set aside specific times to check and respond to emails
Next up, set aside dedicated times throughout your day, to check your inbox. It’s a good idea to opt for no more than three – so opt for first thing, just before or after lunch, and once again in the late afternoon. You can also set up an automated response to let email senders know you’ve received their email and will respond within 48 hours.
Respond immediately wherever possible to lessen inbox overwhelm
When you go in and check your inbox, go in focused. If something can be responded and acted on within a 2-3 minute window, do it there and then. For everything else in your inbox, you’re following a clear routine – delete, delegate, or mark to follow up at a set date and time. You then need to ensure you’re setting a slot in your calendar to action those things you’ve delegated.
Don’t use your inbox as your central email storage space
And that brings us onto your email folders. You want to make use of labels, folders and categories within your inbox. Your inbox shouldn’t be your central email storage space, as this is going to make you feel overwhelmed everytime you look at it! Instead, create a filing system within your email account. To get started, set up a folder where you can put all of those emails you’ve just marked to follow up.
Unsubscribe from promotional emails
If you want to stop letting your inbox overwhelm you, reduce the number of emails arriving in it. It’s really easy to sign up to a multitude of promotional emails, newsletters and general freebies and downloads. The problem however, is we seldom take the time to then unsubscribe from those we’re not interested in! So set aside time to do just that. If you no longer want to receive emails from a company, unsubscribe.
Remove inbox overwhelm, by hiring an assistant to manage your inbox for you
It is easy to get overwhelmed by a mountain of emails in your inbox. And with more turning up on a daily basis, it can be incredibly stressful. But the beauty of an online inbox is you don’t have to be the one managing it! Hire a Virtual Personal Assistant to manage it for you. They’ll be able to clear out your inbox, set up a suitable folder system and create rules to help make it a lot easier (and less time-consuming) for you.
If you’d like to explore hiring an assistant, this blog will help you choose the right Virtual Assistant for your business. And of course, if you’re looking to hire someone to assist you, why stop at your inbox! Here’s an overview of what else you can outsource to a Virtual Personal Assistant.
Running your own business inevitably means there are a lot of things vying for your attention. But your inbox doesn’t have to be one of them. You can use the tips above to gain control of it or, if you’d prefer, you can hand the whole thing over to someone else.
With so many emails being sent everyday, it’s no wonder business owners are getting overwhelmed with their inbox. The tips above will help, as long as you have the time free to implement them. But if you’d like to drop the overwhelm and gain control of your emails again, with a little help from a Virtual Personal Assistant, let’s talk! You’ll find details of our Virtual Personal Assistant services and a contact form, over on this page.