How many emails do you receive on a daily basis? How many emails do you lose track of on a daily basis because you just cannot keep up?
What is that big number of Unread emails that haunts you at night and greets you the first thing every morning? Is a Zero inbox even possible for someone who runs a bookkeeping business?
Even for busy business owners, even at tax time, it is possible to get to Inbox Zero and stay there. Here’s how with a little effort and even more knowledge:
- Set up your email application so that it closely matches your data flow. All of the popular email clients allow you to set up working folders in addition to the regular default folders of inbox, drafts, sent, and trash. Depending on your email client, these folders are called labels, tags, or Folders! You can also make subfolders for each category. Keep your folders to a minimum, however. Having too many folders and subfolders is counterproductive. Make sure that the auto-delete function is OFF.
- Processing your email using rules. Read your emails in order. Jumping around based on the email headline only takes more time and causes more confusion. As you read the email, ask yourself: What is this? What needs to be done? All emails fall into one of four categories: the email requires no action; the email requires less than 2 minutes of action; the email requires more than two minutes of action; or the email contains important information that you need to keep. Decide the proper category for the email immediately upon reading it.
- A full inbox is almost always the result of indecision and inaction. Make it a habit to decide on the fate of the email right then and there. a. If the email requires no action, delete it. b. If the email requires an action that takes less than 2 minutes, do the action immediately, and then delete the email. c. If the email requires action that will take more than 2 minutes, move it to one of your working folders which you have set up either by client or by project. Move it now, and then delete the email. d. If the email has information that you need now or in the future, file it in your Documents folder for the client or project, or move/forward it to your CRM app. Once the email is moved, delete it.
- Don’t over file your emails. You don’t need an email file and a document and/or project/client file. Depending on your business setup, you can keep all documents filed by client or by project and forward all relevant emails to the client or project file. From there, you can manage all of your business documents with your online document sharing system, LedgerDocs. Everything is in one place and everyone who needs to have access can search and find those documents and emails easily.
- Once you have achieved Inbox Zero, it will take just a little discipline to keep it that way. Set regular times during your workday to check your email and stick to those times only. Turn off all email notifications those bells and dings will drive you crazy and seriously reduce your productivity. Every time you check your email, process it as directed above. Set a time during your day, mid-afternoon is a good time to go through your working files to ensure that everything is on your task list. At the end of the day, do one final check to make sure your inbox is at zero, shut the door, enjoy your evening, and get a good night’s sleep without counting unread emails in sheep’s clothing.
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