If you’re anything like me, when you go back to work after a break – even a small one – your heart sinks as soon as you open your email. There’s nothing quite as depressing as a big-ass number of emails in your inbox. It can leave you feeling overwhelmed or stressed. We all know this is not the optimum mood for productivity!
The problem is that we never really get to the bottom of our inboxes these days. It’s just one more thing we can never quite lick into shape.
Well, here’s a few ideas to start making your way towards a wonderful place called Inbox Zero. I like to joke that when you are at Inbox Zero you are the most perfect version of yourself. You are in control. You are capable. You have the time to pursue the things you want most of all.
When you get to that state, your impact goes way beyond your emails. You can begin to make a difference to other things; other people. And the results you see change accordingly.
And here’s the thing – when you start to take control of one area of your life, you often find that other things that had been challenging you seem to fall into place.
(Lots of the women who take our BeFruitful program, for example, find that although they might start off with a goal to transform how they manage time, by the end of the program all kinds of things have shifted: energy, health, relationships… the list goes on.)
So, let’s start with 5 ways to handle your inbox. And along the way, you might just notice some other powerful shifts that are ready to happen elsewhere in your life as well…
5 ways to take back control of your inbox
How many times have you found yourself distracted by an email offer or newsletter? Be brutal. If you cannot see an easy way to unsubscribe then block the account to send any dead wood straight to your junk. You should see a difference immediately. Those five minutes you might spend daydreaming over a bargain Caribbean cruise are yours again. Use them wisely.
Where else in your life are you saying yes to things you don’t really want to do, or taking on obligations you can’t easily fulfil, out of habit or a sense of duty? Time for a boundaries conversation. Use Enough is Enough to help you nail those powerful conversations – and free up your time for the things that matter.
#2 FIVE MINUTE FLASH
Instead of checking Facebook or the news on your phone when you’re bored or have a couple of minutes between meetings, see how many emails you can get through. Respond to those that you know from the subject line will only take a few seconds. Challenge yourself to do more in five minutes next time.
What else could you do as a quick 5 minute break between activities? Jumping jacks, a big glass of water, some mindful breathing or a quick clean up of your space? Use those micro-breaks to make a difference to the things that will make life easier.
#3 SHORT AND SWEET
I heard a great story recently about a woman working in Hollywood who took a wayward actress under her wing and turned her career around. News of her dedication reached the boss of the company, a huge Hollywood mogul. He sent her a long email, congratulating her on her work, copying the email to many important people. This woman’s emailed reply? Thanks.
Brevity is underrated – perhaps because so many of us were raised with the idea of “going the extra mile” as something to be strived for. But not everything in life needs to get 100% of your attention. Where could you give yourself permission to do something “just enough” without compromising your values?
#4 COPY AND PASTE
Have you got a form response to save precious minutes when no further action is required? Not only will it save you time typing the email but you expand less mental energy composing and suitable reply. Something like: “This is great, thanks for keeping me in the loop.” can cover you plenty of times.
Are you reinventing the wheel each time you respond to a request, cook dinner, get dressed? What brings you great joy to keep varied, and where could you use a tried-and-tested habit to take the decision off your plate? Many women swear by a simple capsule wardrobe; for others, it’s eating the same breakfast or following the same exercise routine. Reduce your decisions and you’ll free up energy for other things.
#5 AN INBOX IS NOT A FILING CABINET
Repeat that after me. Even the most basic email programs will have a filing system. Get to know yours. It is easy to get into the habit of searching through your entire inbox for the right correspondence. The same search will still pick-up an email you archived. But moving a hundred emails to an archive folder will make room for new business to flow!
Have a quick think about what’s ‘blocked’ in your life right now. Is it your overflowing laundry basket, the wall of Amazon boxes in the haul, or thousands of notifications on your phone. What quick system could you implement to help things flow a little better?
Over to you
How many emails in your inbox right now? Are you a hoarder or a sorter? Does a trip to inbox zero sound good to you? Let us know in the comments!
Want more ways to BeFruitful?
BeFruitful is our online program that helps you determine what’s truly important to you in your life.
Each of the 6 modules of this online training program is broken down into 3 easy to digest parts. It’s basically the equivalent of sitting down together in my home office as I share my personal habits for success. Habits that have been honed and developed over many years, and impacted the lives of thousands of women around the world.
From this place, you can re-create a plan for living and working which allows you to enjoy “time affluence” for yourself. And there are some delicious treats in store when you enrol!
Our intention is simple. To support professional women to handle the day-to-day so they can unleash the bigger impact they feel called to make in the world.
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