Five Ways To Take Back Control
The Guy In A Box System
He created a separate folder in his Microsoft Outlook email program (you can do the same thing in Gmail), and he called the folder “Guy In A Box”. He never kept any email in his actual inbox. He would read it and respond to the email if necessary, and then he would drag it to the folder. This kept zero actual emails in his inbox. They were all in the separate folder that he had named.
He had the “Guy In A Box” folder sorted by the person who sent the email instead of by the date it was sent. So, if he ever had to reference an email, he could quickly search for it based on the person who had sent it to him. He was literally looking for the guy in a box who sent him the email. See where the name comes from?
Only Check Your Email Twice
Another way to take back control of your email inbox that most productivity experts recommend is to limit the number of times that you actually check your email. You don’t have to constantly check your email. In fact, checking your email only two times a day would be an incredible boost to most of our productivity.
Turn Off Your New Message Alerts
Don’t even keep your email program running in the background. This will help you stick to checking your email only twice a day. I have even heard some people taking it as far as to not set up their smartphones to receive emails.
Gmail Add On Apps For Your Email
I remember emailing a friend and CC’ing another email address that I had for him because I really wanted to make sure that he received my important email. He raked me over the coals for filling up his email inbox because all of his separate email addresses all funneled into his Gmail account.
Have you ever sent the same email over and over again? I have a standard email response that I sent to the ten or twenty potential advertisers’ emails I get every day by using a Gmail add on app called “Canned Responses”. If you send a lot of the same emails day in and day out and haven’t looked into canned responses, you are really missing out. And, you are probably wasting a lot of your precious time as well. Now I can send out a standard form email response in seconds that is prebuilt. One simple email and using canned responses has earned me thousands of dollars from advertisers over the years.
You can turn on Canned Responses from your Gmail account by clicking the settings gear icon, then clicking on Labs in the top menu bar, and Canned Responses is in the Gmail Labs section.
Another incredible Gmail add on app that I just started using is called Boomerang. It’s awesome! I used to send responses to people and never received a reply back from them. It was like a black hole, and I was constantly forgetting to follow up with people. Boomerang lets you set a reminder. For example, it will remind you to follow up with an email if you haven’t received a response from the person you sent it to in two days.
It also boomerangs your original email back to the top of your email inbox to help remind you to follow up. There are tons of other great features with Boomerang as well. It is definitely a cool email add on and something you should check out. It is a great way to be more productive with your email.
Filters, Folders, And Other Extras
Another great addition to Gmail recently has been the VIP inbox. Now I never miss an email from the three most important ladies in my life: my wife, my mom, and my mother-in-law. I’m judicious in who is considered a VIP for email. It is only those three. They get special VIP folders, highlighted colors, and even a special alert sound from my iPhone when one of their emails comes in. After all, I definitely don’t want to feel the wrath of one of those ladies if I were to accidentally put one of their emails in the “Guy In A Box” folder!
There are so many options, folders, filters, add on apps, tips, tricks, and the other ways to get the most out of your email. Email is a tool. It helps us be more productive at home and work if we use it right, but it has gotten out of hand recently. It’s time to take back control.
What about you? How much of your time is eaten up by checking email, responding to email, and the like? Are you conquering your email inbox? What tips, tricks, programs, and apps are you using to get ahead of the onslaught of emails that we all receive every day?
I’d love to hear what you do in the comment section, or you could always try your luck and email me too. I promise not to put you in the Guy In A Box folder until I write you back!
Hank Coleman is a Major in the United States Army and a financial writer who specializes in helping members of the military and their families with money issues. Additionally, Hank writes about personal finance on his blog, Money Q&A where he tackles tough money questions from his readers. You can follow Hank on Twitter @MoneyQandA or check out his podcast “Your Money: Your Choices” on iTunes.
Hank has already made an impression on Square Pennies readers. Be sure to check out my Interview with Hank Coleman from Money Q&A It includes a bonus of a screenshot of his planning spreadsheet that shows how he schedules tasks and keeps his goals in sight. It is well worth your time to take a look at it.