Before I get into this: I am proud to announce that I took a legit vacation this past weekend — hence no blog post yesterday. I’m usually pretty consistent with the Mon-Thurs posts, but your girl just needed a break. Can you blame me? Anyway, back to your regularly scheduled program!
Let’s talk about something that can take up a ton of your time: email organization. As a small business owner, I feel like I’m a slave to my inbox at times — and I’ve found myself in the past refreshing my email every 20 minutes while out and about. I’ve learned over the past year that constantly checking your email isn’t the most productive thing you can do for your business. Having better email organization methods in place is a more effective use of your time. Here are some tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years to help get my inbox to zero.
Filters Are Your Friend
For starters, I use Google Apps and have a Gmail-based account — even though my email is hello [AT] aliciatenise.com. I love Gmail because of all of the organizational capabilities, and I can’t imagine using any other email platform.
I love using filters for emails that I frequently get that don’t require my immediate attention. Some of the filters I have in place are:
- Guest Posts: I’m sure every blogger gets the unwanted “can I guest post on your website” emails from SEO companies or random “writers” who clearly aren’t familiar with their websites. I’ve set it up so that if I get an email with the words “Guest Post” in the subject line, it’s sent to a folder, never hits my inbox and I can decline these requests whenever I have the spare time.
- Press Releases: As a former PR major, I understand why I get press releases as a blogger — I’m considered to be a media outlet. However, I’m not a traditional media outlet, and I typically don’t write stories off of press releases or media alerts. I have a personal blog, and I write content from a first-person experience. I won’t unsubscribe from press releases that are within my niche, just in case I get an alert that’s worth looking into. However, 99.99% of the time, a press release isn’t beneficial to me, so I have them all sent to a folder, and they skip my inbox.
If an email has the word “Media Kit” or “Press Release” in the subject line, or if it has the words “For Immediate Release” in the body of the email, I’ve filtered it to skip the inbox. I also have added a few specific email addresses to the filter over time as well.
- Sponsored Post Application Requests: As a blogger, I get automated alerts from a few influencer networks to apply to sponsored campaigns. Since I have to pitch a concept when applying for campaigns, I opt to sit and apply for these campaigns on my desktop rather than on my phone. I have these emails go straight to a folder as well rather than my inbox and check it 1-2 times a day.
Schedule Emails During Business Hours
When I was working my 9-5 and blogging, I had to email contacts at weird hours: either before work, during my lunch breaks, or late at night. Now that I blog full-time, I like to keep regular business hours. I usually work between 9 AM – 6 PM on any given day. Sometimes I have to leave the “office” earlier than 6 PM to attend events and meetings, but these are the hours I generally work each day.
I’m based on the East Coast, but I also I partner with some brands on the West Coast and some international companies as well. I’m not gonna lie: sometimes I see a good email hit my inbox after my ideal business hours, and I’ll be quick to jump on it and reply. However, I like to stick to my regular business hours as much as possible, so if I’m replying to emails late at night, I’ll schedule them to send that next morning with the Boomerang app for Gmail. I use the free version and can schedule out ten messages/month, but you also have the option to pay for unlimited scheduled messages and to even pause your inbox as well.
Canned Responses Are Key
I’ve been using Canned Responses for the past few years now, and they are a godsend. Canned Responses is an option you can set up in Gmail, and you can create your own email templates to insert into messages while replying to them. I’ll always personalize each template. However, it’s a great way to answer multiple emails in a short period. I have canned responses to decline opportunities that might not be a fit, for guest post inquiries, and for other responses that I send on a regular basis.
Turn Off Notifications On Your Phone
I am 100% guilty of checking my email on my phone way too much when I’m out and about. I would find myself checking my email on the weekends, when I’m out at dinner with friends, and at other points when it wasn’t necessary. I decided to turn off my email notifications for good — every time I would hear the notification, I would immediately jump to my phone. Most emails can wait, my friends!
Unsubscribe or Mark As Spam
One of the most annoying things about being a blogger? I’ve had people either add my email to their mailing list without permission, or I’ll be added to a mailing list that is not within my niche. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been added to mommy blogger PR lists when I don’t have children (or really want them at the moment, TBH!)
I open every single email: the good, the bad and the ugly. If it’s an unwanted newsletter, I try to scroll straight to the bottom and unsubscribe myself. Sometimes, a brand or PR company won’t have an “unsubscribe” option — at that point, I just mark it as spam if the message is unsolicited. I’ve tried to politely ask to be removed from the list in the past, but that has had a very low success rate. By reporting those messages as spam, I can ensure that their message won’t pop up in my inbox again.
What are some of your email organization tips?
Photos by Tom McGovern