computer screen email inbox
Having trouble managing your email inbox?

If you run a small sign making business it is quite possible that your inbox is virtually the center of your universe. Fielding emails from business associates, sign customers, prospective sign customers and professionals takes time and energy. With a little bit of extra planning you can get your inbox under control and work more productively at the same time. Here are six ways to do this.
  • Clean your inbox out - completely. When was the last time you had no emails in your inbox? For most of us the answer is never, or perhaps not since the account was opened. However getting your inbox cleaned out down to zero emails is an insanely liberating feeling that everyone should attain to on a daily basis. Of course, new emails can arrive at any second, but knowing that you have nothing to field but what is to come is a great way to boost your productivity and confidence.
  • Be frugal. With your folders and filters that is. Folders, or labels as Gmail calls them, are a great way to organize old emails. However, when you accumulate folders you make it more difficult to actually find what you are looking for. Keep folders for important documents you will refer to regularly, or projects that you are currently working on. Archive other items, which, if you use Gmail, are just a quick search away. Filters can also be helpful and harmful at the same time. They help by capturing specific emails as they come in and diverting them to their respective folders before they ever even hit your inbox. However, if you have too many filters going to too many folders you are likely to lose track of what is passing through your inbox.
  • Delete, delete, delete. When opening up your inbox for the first time daily take the first few minutes to delete unimportant messages that you don't need to read. Get rid of the clutter first and then read through the important stuff later. You'll feel good and productive after seeing the number of emails in your inbox shrink.
  • Get to work. You'll be in a better position to attain to zeroing your inbox if you handle emails as they come in. A good rule of thumb is to go ahead and act upon any email that will take you less than 2 minutes to handle right on the spot. If you can't take care of it right away, then you should transfer the task to another system that you will make sure to check again, such as your calendar or task list.
  • Use canned responses. When possible have a canned response that will handle simple requests, such as directions to your office, or information about popular products. While these won't be able to handle all your emails, they will take some of the load off of your shoulders.
  • Take a look at gmail's priority inbox. A new feature of gmail, it watches what you open to "learn" the important messages and senders in your life... and then it elevates those to the top. It’s time-consuming to figure out what needs to be read and what needs a reply. This really helps, I've been using it for the last month or two. You automatically spend less time on the unimportant, and eventually start wondering why you even need to receive those emails to begin with.

A full inbox can be overwhelming, but by putting these tips into practice you can control your inbox, so it doesn't control you.