As entrepreneurs, we are usually the main and most times, only, means of contact. That means we get a lot of email. While most of the email may come from newsletters you’ve subscribed too, it still ends with a ton of emails sitting in our inbox. Clearing out these emails will help make sure there is no client messages or opportunities slipping through the cracks. This isn’t a hard concept to grasp, but it’s hard to put it into practice.
If you are brand new with a new email, chances are you won’t have too many emails and this is will be a fairly fast and easy project for you. If you've had your email account for awhile, this will be a long process. I have over 2,000 emails in my inbox and over 8,000 emails in the account all together that I need to go through. You will probably need to get a strategy together before you attempt to tackle a project this size.
Decide whether you want to spread this out over the weekend or if you want to hate yourself and get the majority of it done in one day. You could commit to dealing with 100 emails a day until you wipe them all out. You could even outsource it to a Virtual Assistant. Just commit to getting it done and get to work!
For each email you come to, ask yourself these questions:
Will I ever come back to this email?
Does this email have action steps that will help me improve my business?
Will I actually take those action steps?
Is it something I need to keep for my records? (i.e. receipts, tax stuff, client contracts)
Can my life go on without this email?
If you start to get super weird not having this email around, don’t freak out. Just because you don’t need the email or have any reason for keeping it doesn’t mean that it has to be trashed. If you are that wigged out about the email, then give yourself permission to keep it! I won’t judge you and nobody will know because nobody can see your emails. This is all part of your interpretation. You’re in charge here.
On the flip side of that, if you really don’t care about the email or you’re just indifferent as to whether you keep it or not, then trash it. Get it out of your life. Odds are you’ll never need it and it will help you clear your mind being out of your inbox.
Keeping Your Emails
If you’ve decided to keep an email, it needs a place to go. If you have a Gmail account - I don’t know why you wouldn’t - then apply a label to it and archive it. This gets it out of your inbox, but you still have a record of it. If you’re in Outlook, add it to a folder. That should get it out of your inbox. If you haven’t caught on, the goal here is to get it out of your inbox. You want an inbox that says zero by the time you’re done.
Again, if you’ve had your account for awhile, you probably already have labels - or folders, depending on your account, already set up. Take a look at the emails that have already been archived and are sitting there. Then take a look at the labels themselves. See if you can condense them. See if you need to expand on them. Really take the time to develop a system that works for you. A few examples of labels/folders you can use are billing or accounting, receipts, events, or follow up. I use many of these throughout my many, many email accounts.
Plan It All Out
You’ve made all of your choices in terms of what you want to do and such. For every email you’ve deemed worthy to keep, you need to decide what you’re going to do with them. If they are workshops, you need to take some time to review it. If they give you tips or action steps, you need to actually take them. If there’s a worksheet, you need to fill it out and put it to use. This part also requires a system for keeping track of everything you have done and want to do.
I started a Google Drive spreadsheet and have added each task/action item I want to get done to it. Then I am taking one task a day and working on it. I schedule in content consumption times that I go through it, so I’m not wasting a full day on consuming other people’s content. I still have time to create my own, while learning and expanding my knowledge and skills.
Once you get down to zero, you will not only be ecstatic that you’ve finished this whole project, but you will also be so happy to get an actual system together for managing and handling all of the new email that ends up in your inbox. Going into your email account won’t be a source of stress anymore and you actually feel at peace. I promise you. I know it may feel like a waste of time to delete emails all day long when you could be writing a blog post, developing a product, or recording a video, but I promise it will all be worth it once it’s done.