Or are your To-Do’s out of control?
I hate to admit it but when I finished work for2021, my To-Do list and my Inbox was out of control! If you know me, you know I like order and effective processes to keep things in order, so you can imagine my internal “OCD barometer” was going “freakin” off!
The lead up to Christmas had been intense with two Million $ Membership Way™ Private clients launching new courses in December. In that program, it’s all hands on deck to make sure our launching client’s content, copy, landing pages, funnels, campaigns, automation etc is all done, tested and ready for the day they open their cart.
I was, of course, triaging emails to ensure urgent things were addressed but I ended the year with over 3,500 emails in my Inbox – it was crazy and very unsettling!
That’s not my preferred modus operandi, and while nothing urgent was missed and the launches were all a success, I felt stressed, and unsettled like a downhill ski racer, who awkwardly clipped a gate and has a really wobbly ride to the finish line but somehow manages to stay upright. It wasn’t pretty but I got there in the end!
My Christmas break was great, and while I was still checking my email infrequently for urgent matters (thankfully there was none); I went out of my way to not think about my burgeoning inbox and the ramifications that held for me in January.
So, when I returned to work refreshed, and ready to take on the new year with gusto, the moment I saw my inbox, which had now grown to a little over 5,000 emails, I was totally bummed with the prospect of cleaning up my mess.
Not the start to the year I was hoping for …
But I am now happy to say that with a little thought and a new process, the 5,000+ emails have been processed and filed and it only took 1.5 hours. And no, I didn’t do a mass delete …
So How Did I Clear over 5,000 emails in 1.5 hours?
It’s also worth noting that I manage my personal business inbox; I don’t delegate this task to a VA. There are several reasons I made this decision, for now, let’s just say it’s for practical reasons rather than a fear of relinquishing control.
Clearly, my current process wasn’t serving me … So, here is how I tamed my inbox and took control of my To-Do list. BTW, the new process I created can be used with any email app …
My Email Handling Process
- Sort –I temporarily changed the sort order of the emails in my inbox from “Date” to “ From” so they were grouped in alphabetical order of the sender.
- Delete – I then scrolled down the list and scanned and deleted emails that were pure marketing; that I had no interest in reading or had already read.
- Review/Allocate/File – Next, I processed the remaining groups of emails in order of priority i.e., clients, suppliers and other by following these steps:
Emails that had been read and actioned were selected together and then tagged as complete and moved together to their designated archive folder.
Non-urgent work request emails were scanned and scheduled as an appointment into my calendar to either do the work myself or scope the work for someone else to do.
These emails were then tagged as “Scheduled to be done” and then forwarded to the ClickUp board for that client, where ClickUp automatically adds it to the client’s To-Do list of tasks. These emails I left flagged and in my inbox as a visual reminder (I go to my inbox several times a day), that they are waiting to be actioned.
If the email only required a quick response, I sent a reply and performed Step “i” above.
Points to Note:
- I worked diligently, without getting bogged down in time consuming details.
- While it was tempting to do all of this in one sitting, I didn’t. I allocated 15 mins per day at the start of the day for the next 5 days to work on task.
- I knew I could go hard for 15 mins without distraction and then move onto do the work I had allocated into my calendar.
- I made it a non-negotiable priority to do the 15 mins of each day so that by the time I got to the Friday (5th day) it was done.
What about the new emails coming in?
I applied the above process to each new email that came in during the day each time I checked my emails.
My Daily Goal was:
- To ensure that I processed all emails that had come in that day, in addition to the 15 mins of email clean-up; and
- That the only emails remaining in my inbox were those tagged as still needing my attention.
- As each tagged email was completed it was processed and archived immediately as part of the work.
I’m happy to report that I’ve not only tamed my inbox but my new process has been working well for over 2 weeks now.
What’s your process for staying on top of your inbox and To-Dos?