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Escaping the Email Blackhole

by: Kathy DalPra

email managementIt's simple. The reason we don't have time for SEO or marketing or whatever is because we're doing something else. Unfortunately, many times, that something else isn't productive or profitable. Namely, email.

Let's see if this sounds familiar. 

It's 8:00am and you slip behind your desk, ready to start the day. There are a dozen projects swimming around in your head, not to mention a long administrative to-do list you're dreading. So what's the easiest way to start your day? Email, of course!

You open your message feed and, instantly, overwhelm sets in. You've been sucked into the email blackhole.

The next few hours are a total time suck and, before you know it, you've lost your morning. You want to scream. You were so ready to start the day and be productive. What happened?!

I truly believe that email is one of the top obstacles that prevents us from getting more tangible results in our businesses because it is often the largest time leak in our days. While general admin stuff isn't usually my topic of choice, I'm talking about it anyway because it does impact whether my clients (or you) get results from all the other strategies I share.

For myself, I've had to learn extreme email discipline. While there will be different approaches that work for all of us, here's what works for me:

"Inbox Zero" is the goal

The #1 best takeaway for me on this topic is that I don't open in it if I can't tend to it. I need to have the bandwidth in my dedicated email time to actually respond and resolve an issue if I'm going to open it. Anytime I break this rule, I regret it, so I'm constantly recommitting myself to it.

I also highly recommend a quick read of this article which addresses the email blackhole and why we avoid certain emails and how to change that. 

Never check email first thing in the morning

We've heard this one before, but are we following it? How we start our day sets the tone for every hour that follows. If we lose the first few hours managing messages, rather than crossing off to-do items, we're already behind. Stress and overwhelm set in.

This is a habit we just have to stop.

An oldie, but goodie, I think Tim Ferris says it best in his The Not-To-Do List.

Get email organized

Whether you use Gmail folders or a professional support desk software, organization is key.

If you're a solo act, Gmail is awesome. It integrates well with other Google products and is super easy to use. It's easy to stay organized with folders and keep social and promotional emails sorted separately.

If you have a virtual assistant or other team members, I highly recommend support email software. You all log into the same online platform, where all emails are managed. Rather than maintaining separate Gmail or Outlook interfaces, all messages are neatly managed in one place and can easily be transferred from one team member to another.

In my business, we use software designed for managing email as if they were support tickets. This allows my team to all be on the same page, keep organized so we can quickly find past messages that were already addressed and respond to clients in a timely manner.

What's your secret to staying on top of email?

Have an awesome email practice that keeps your inbox clean and your head uncluttered? Share it in the comments below.