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Are you overloaded with your email inbox? If you’re looking for a system to automate your email in just a few minutes, I have a solution for you!
And this isn’t just theory, this is something I’ve personally been able to accomplish.
Last week a miracle happened. A straight up miracle, y’all! For the first time ever (so it seems) I hit inbox zero with my Gmail account.
If you run an online business you probably know how hard this milestone is to achieve. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever really reached inbox zero before.
But after working hard at systemizing my email inbox the past few weeks, I’ve finally come up with a solution that actually works.
How I reached inbox zero
So how exactly did I reach inbox zero? It’s all about business systems and putting a process in place that you’ll actually use!
Novel idea, I know. As business owners we tend to get distracted with new tools or strategies for streamlining our workflow.
Don’t believe me? Here’s a screenshot to prove it!
Yes, trying new scheduling tactics and productivity apps is a great way to improve your business. But only to the point where it actually HELPS you, not hinders you from making progress in your business.
With that, here are some simple systems for your email (and a few tools) that will actually work!
Manage client info with an email service provider
I’m not the person who uses a lot of sales funnels or email sequences (been there, done that, I’m terrible at it!) but I do love automations.
And this is something that ConvertKit is an amazing tool for!
Have you ever thought about using your email service provider as a CRM program? It’s an interesting idea, right?
I mean, all of your contact info can be kept there, and with ConvertKit you can organize clients into different tags or segments.
This is what I do with my clients, both current and past! As new clients comes on board they go through a signup process to get on my email list where they’re tagged as Current Clients.
As I move away from certain services these clients are tagged as Past Clients so I can email them in the future (to ask for referrals, testimonials, recommendations, etc).
It’s pretty freaking great, because you can also tag them from how they found you (via Pinterest, Instagram, a Hire Me page, whatever!). Give it a try!
Forward emails and turn them into tasks
This is one of my favorite little tricks for creating a system for your email inbox. It’s a simple but powerful tip!
Ready? Turn emails into tasks using Asana.
Let me explain a bit more.
Asana is my favorite task management system and the best part is that it’s totally free! When synced with your inbox, you can forward emails to your Asana account.
Just choose the email you want to forward, type in firstname.lastname@example.org and hit Send. The email subject line will be the title of the task, and anyone you CC to the email will be tagged in the task.
Here’s a quick-start guide from Asana!
You can then find your emailed tasks by logging into Asana and looking under the “My Tasks” tab. This is where you can set a deadline for the task and mention any other details.
Some examples of emails I turn into tasks are:
- Responses to interviews
- Applications for programs
- Reminders to follow up
- Payments for bills or cancellations
- Travel plans and receipts I want to save
- Follow up emails to editors or clients
- Bookkeeping tasks and reminders
- And tons more!
The options are endless really, and once you get into the habit of turning your emails into tasks you’ll reach inbox zero in no time.
Respond to emails quickly and easily
A lot of emails I receive are many of the same types of questions and inquiries. Instead of spending a lot of time replying with the same response, I like to create a simplified response with Canned Responses.
This is a Gmail app (that’s free!) where you can create templates for replying to the same types of email requests.
Reply to an email like you normally would, fill in the details of your reply and save it as a Canned Response.
The next time an email request comes into your inbox similar to this, you simply use the same template and just change the name any other details.
I do this for media requests, answers to sponsors, and replies to readers of this blog. As a project manager I also use this app with many of my clients as it’s a great tool for customer service inquires.
Reply when it’s most convenient
Boundaries are essential to any small business owner’s survival, and this is even more evident with your email inbox. I make it clear to my clients that I’m not in my inbox all day, and you shouldn’t be either!
You deserve a life outside of your inbox!
I usually respond to questions and comments within 24 hours and I do my best to only reply to emails during business hours.
But I’m not a robot and there are times when I have a few minutes to respond, or I can’t sleep in the middle of the night.
But I don’t want my clients knowing that I’m replying to them at 3am! #selfemployedsleepproblems 😴
This is why I love Boomerang for Gmail. You can schedule replies to emails at whatever time of day you’d like. As emails come into your inbox you can also request that they “boomerang” back out another day when you’re ready to handle them.
The Basic version has 10 message credits that you can access for free, otherwise it’s $4.99+ but I find that the Basic version works just fine for my needs.
Automate your email inbox
It takes time to implement a new process for your workflow, but I promise that even just using one of these tips for streamlining your inbox will really help free up your day!
Even if you only try one of the tips I’ve shared here, you’ll be well on your way to inbox zero.
And then you can use your spare time to do other important things — like take a nap! 😲