How To Get Control Of Your Inbox

Joy and Jo take you through a system for getting your inbox under control and keeping it that way. 

Bonus Tip - put an end to internal emails by implementing a free chat tool like Slack!

Welcome to Savvy Sessions #8. 

Today we discuss how to get control of your inbox. This is one of the dreaded parts of running a business, how to actually manage the inbox.

We regularly get clients that come to us and their inboxes are out of control. They might have thousands of emails in there, and it's all about trying to manage that so you don't get a backlog of emails that you haven't replied to, or the subscription emails that are sitting there from three months ago that you haven't even looked at.

Top tips - it's all about clearing out the backlog and getting it to a more manageable state, then the next part is to create a system that can manage the inbox. But, when we say the system manages the inbox, it's still up to you, and it takes dedication and commitment to keep using the system you've created to actually keep it under control. This not just a magic tool that's going to manage your inbox for you, you still have to be doing something each day and sticking to it. 

The first step is to actually get it to a manageable state and the way that we recommend doing that is to do a few things. 

Have a scan through your inbox and see what rules and filters you can set up that will do some of the things that you would do with those emails. For example, a client had 3,000 emails, some of them were lots of invoices that came in throughout the month and at the end of the month, that they needed to review. What we did was set up a filter where those emails wouldn't even hit the inbox, they would just automatically go into a folder which was 'Invoices to Review', and the client would review the emails/invoices all at once. It's one of the very few folders that we set up, we created a system that had the 'Inbox', the 'Archive', the 'Invoices to Review', and a 'Personal' folder, that's it. 

The client also used Xero, so we grabbed some of the emails that came through regularly, like 2Degrees where you're getting a monthly invoice, and we set up a rule that auto forwarded those to their 'Bills' email address in Xero, so those are automatically forwarded to Xero with the attachment and they can edit the draught invoices on a monthly basis or however they want to manage that. The second part of that rule is to file it away in to 'Archive'. 

We went through and had a look at anything else we could set up a rule for. Once we'd done that, we then looked at some of the subscription emails that they were getting. Some of the things you don't even want or need or never look at, we just unsubscribed from those. 

We had a look at Zapier, which is a really awesome tool, to see if we could do some of the fancy things that you can't normally do inside your email account. We just drew a line in the sand and said "Okay we're going to archive anything that was before last month", it was the middle of April, so anything that was pre-March was all going to be archived. The way we explained that to the client was that if it's on the second, third, fourth page of your inbox, like in Gmail, or if it's down the bottom, it's no different having the emails sitting there than it is to just have it in the 'Archive' folder. 

In most email platforms they have an archive button so it's nice and easy to select them all, we did a bulk select based on the date and a search and we bulk archived all of those emails. And now the client is down to still quite a few emails but they're getting a lot of emails each day. 

Now that it's more manageable the client was going to see if there were any more rules that they could set up and clear out all of those emails, and anything that's dealt with they were going to archive. We're not going to delete necessarily, it's just all about the system, and how the client will  deal with emails.  By dealing with them and then clicking the archive button, the email will be in their 'All Mail' folder or the 'Archive' folder, and some of those filters are going to continue to work and so they are going to go in and have a look at the 'Invoices to Review' folder and then they're just going to keep that up on a daily basis.  That is how they will get on top of those.

One client, he had thousands of emails but it turned out that he was getting copies of emails. It was a craft brewery, so he was getting copies of orders, or a copy of the dispatch confirmations, that he never dealt with. We went through it and we actually said "Do you ever look at those?", "Nope".  You can actually look through it and figure out what, not only subscription, emails you may not want, but also what do you really need to be copied in on. If it's just a CC you may not even need, you can go to however sent it and have a chat with them.

Remove the auto-send-a-copy.  You might've set that up in the beginning, thinking it was a great idea and you might have wanted to see all of those, but now you don't need to.

Archiving is a good way to get rid of everything, but you're not deleting it and some people like having folders, but the reality these days is with the search function you can archive everything and you can just jump in the search and put in a keyword and find it. It saves you having to worry about trying to find what folder it's in.

Absolutely get rid of your folder structure, it's the worst idea ever and ten years ago we needed to have a folder structure because the search function wasn't great. Now that the search function is amazing, you don't actually have to have all those folders anymore. By having folders, you're just delaying your decision on what to do with each email and making it too hard. Just remove the folders and archive.

Thanks for watching. That was Savvy Sessions #8.

See you next time!

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