At a certain point, we all feel like we’ve moved beyond the “101” of our industry. We’ve gained experience, become wiser, and have learned the nuances that the basics don’t necessarily prepare us for.
That said, the basics are the basics for a reason. Though they may not be able to answer more complicated questions, the foundational processes and information are there to support the higher-level work we do by giving a solid backbone to stand up the more complicated matters.
This is true for any industry, skill, and talent. The basics are what allow us to become advanced.
But what if we start to become complacent? It’s easy, then, to skip over something we did at the beginning of our journey because we feel we’ve moved beyond it, right?
For example, when we’re learning math, we’re told to show our work and write everything down. This is so that we don’t miss anything important, or incorrectly calculate two numbers. As we become more advanced, we no longer need to write down 12+13 on paper because we inherently know it’s 25. But then we start introducing variables, parenthesis, exponents, and suddenly that 12+13 gets more complicated because we’re no longer just doing the basics.
Now if you get comfortable with this more advanced algebra, you may feel those extra variables are just as basic as 12+13 and you no longer show your work. Suddenly more errors start popping up, and you have to go back to fix it… but the problem is you didn’t show your work, so now you don’t know where your calculation went wrong, and you have to start from the beginning again. What a waste of time!
Your email is surprisingly similar.
If you’re working with two clients, it may be easy to keep a mental note of what’s important and what isn’t. But when you have a dozen or two dozen clients, and you’re getting consistent emails, suddenly it’s not so easy anymore. Those mental notes become jumbled, and things slip through the cracks.
For this very reason, you need to make sure you have a solid system in place where you still show your work – that way, if something goes awry, you’ll be able to pinpoint exactly where it went wrong.
Here are some specifics to keep in mind when you’re going about organizing your inbox:
- Using platforms like unroll.me is great, but relying too heavily on it could make you forget about prioritizing emails that matter versus things like digests and newsletters. If it helps you, great! But don’t forget that at the end of the day, you need to keep track of what’s important, versus what could wait a day or two. A program doesn’t know nuance, so you still need to have a hand in the organizational process.
- Schedule time to check your emails. When you get to your desk in the morning, take 15-30 minutes to sift through everything and reorganize your inbox. After that, schedule uninterrupted blocks of time so you can focus on work and not get distracted. Then schedule a few 5-10 minute blocks throughout the day to check your email and reorganize so you’re always keeping that inbox tidy and neat. You’ll shave off minutes – maybe even hours – of time by staying on task rather than hopping from task to task, email to email (and maybe even to social media because you got distracted), and back again.
- Know your to-do list, but not only that, know what your priorities for the day are. If you know what’s important to you, you’ll know what you can move around if an unexpected project gets thrown your way.
- Know your own habits. If you usually take around 2 hours to respond to an email, and everyone knows that, could you maybe extend that block of uninterrupted work time to be longer than what you originally planned? If so, you’ll find your productivity skyrocketing as you’re able to give 100% focus to the task at hand, rather than constantly hopping from platform to platform.
- Similarly, if you know your habits, you can set up rules to automate certain things such as forwarding emails from a specific client to your partner or sending a newsletter to a lower priority action folder to be looked at later. That’s less time spent and less emails for you to sift through.
- Finally: Not everything has to be done right now! If you feel like you must get to every single email, task, and project today, you’re going to overwhelm yourself. As soon as you can start being comfortable with what you aren’t going to get done today, and start being okay with knowing you’ll do it tomorrow, you’ll feel less stressed. This doesn’t mean deliberately putting things off, but it goes back to knowing your to-do list and what priorities are actually priorities.
By following these basics you’ll have a significantly easier time organizing and managing your inbox, and reduce the stress and burnout that comes with that overwhelm.
You don’t have to do it alone, though. The ARTT system was designed to give you a straightforward process you can use every time you check your email and has been proven to help even the most unruly of inboxes get under control.
Check out this free webinar to learn more, and see how you can easily and quickly implement ARTT into your daily routine.
Just click the link above, sign up for your favorite day, and I’ll see you there!