Please raise your hand if you’ve ever felt trap in your inbox? I have! Gmail is a secretly powerful management tool out there. I never really understood its full potential until I started my business. I used to drain going to my inbox every morning and spending at least an hour or 2 on sorting emails: from client emails to newsletters emails, to personal emails. It was a black hole every morning. Afterward, I would get lost in knowing which task I should focus on first. Complete mayhem. I had to take back my mornings. I just had to!
It’s daunting enough seeing, replying and researching through at least 50-60 a day – never mind deciding which email should I be focusing on first. Yes, we live in a world where information is never enough. There is more than one way to do things, to learn from. But just mentally organizing the information that was coming from my inbox was exhausting enough, never mind applying the new information.
Well, there’s good news: Organizing your inbox and stop wasting time go through each email doesn’t have to be that daunting. With the right system and tools at your disposal, you could easily create a well organize inbox, so you don’t have to pull your hair out any longer or miss any important potential client emails.
STEP 1: BRAINSTORMING A LABELLING SYSTEM THAT WORKS FOR YOU AND YOUR CREATIVE BUSINESS.
One morning, I went to https://unroll.me and I found that I had over 1,000 newsletter sub. Yikes! Yes, it was insane. I seriously had a newsletter addiction. The way I started to organize it was creating a document with a table like this one:
The first thing I did was brainstorm madly for 5 mins of all the labels I can put whenever an email comes in. I didn’t care if they were repetitive at the moment. Lucky in https://unroll.me, they already organize all the newsletter subscription by alphabet order. I scroll through the long list and jot down the label name that could fit into a particular category that I made up and a word or 2 of why I choose that label reference.
After those 5 mins were up, I ran down the label list and I notice a pattern. I have a newsletter blogging addictions. I love to read about designer news, marketing and productivity DIY news, technology advancements, etc. I remember I used to spend hours reading and learning what is new in the design/web/content marketing/technology realm. Isn’t that the point of newsletters? To read and learn from each other?
STEP 2: UNSUBSCRIBE TO UN-VALUABLE NEWSLETTERS
Knowing that I have a newsletter addiction, I had to give rid of them. Now, I know what you are thinking. What about FOMO? How can you unsubscribe to newsletters that were once valuable to you? I came up these 2 important questions I would ask myself before hitting the unsubscribe button:
Answering these questions make it easier to unsubscribe and not be afraid of missing out on the content.
I deleted over 300 newsletters! Oh man! I feel sooo much lighter!
STEP 3: CLEAN UP LABELING LIST TO A SYSTEMATIC APPROACH
I started to clean up my labels into sublabel/folders. This way I can know which email belongs to who and mentally how much time I can spend on them once I open it. I also went back to my Gmail and look for any other patterns such as client emails, personal email, guest posting and social media emails. Important information I knew that was valuable in the labeling process.
Overall here is the final label list I came up with and their reasons why they make sense to me and my system of thinking and organizing. My goal for you to use this template label system for you:
STEP 4: FILTERING THROUGH LABELS SYSTEM
Once I had my labeling system down, it was time to apply them to different filters to them. The way I went with this was by using this memory guide down below so I wouldn’t get lost in the labeling system. Mainly I needed to respect the WHY factor in my label when I began applying filters.
Here are a few examples of how I apply filters to my label system:
Because I know that people contact me through my website, I created a filter to come through my inbox straight away.
- To: email@example.com, Subject: Creative Halcyon Contact Form
- Label Name:
- Creative Halcyon Web Contact
- General Rule:
- Always mark it as important (This way whenever I get an email that comes through my website, it will be the first email I will open.)
One of my favorite podcast to listen to is Get back to design podcast . Every week they upload a new episode. So, in order not to miss it, I created a filter for their weekly newsletter:
Blogging Fanclub are people that ALWAYS give great and awesome value to creative entrepreneurs and of course to my business. This is an example of how to keep up to date news when it comes to your favorite blogger:
STEP 5: Make a plan for when you will check your email
As I told you before, I used to spend hours checking my emails during the morning and it would be noon and I was still going through these emails. Now with this labeling system, I only spend 20 mins in the morning and 20 mins before I close down shop until the next day.
Honesty just knowing which email I should focus on first has been life-changing. For this step 5, it is 3 simple rules you have to follow
- Set out time to check your email in the morning and before closing down shop in the evening
- Do not keep your inbox open all day. You will drive yourself crazy.
- Do not open your inbox unless you have time to do these things. In other ways do not use your inbox as a to-do list. Take action.
Your inbox will be less stressful if you
- Create a labeling system that works for you
- Unsubscribe to invaluable newsletters
- Know your label “why” when you are filtering your emails
- Make a plan to check your email
Do you have an inbox system? If you do I would love to hear it.