Email can be both good and frustratingly painful.
Why you might ask? Because it’s constantly in the back (or front) of our minds.
Smartphone vibrates. Immediately, you reach for your phone and wonder, “Hmm who emailed me?”
That happens to me constantly.
Rather than have email control me, I decided a couple years ago I would control it.
How I used to approach email
In my previous life before operating and founding A4E, I was a Corporate Finance leader. I managed a team, and I was supporting a number of business partners that relied on my financial expertise.
Because of the nature of my role, I was “on call” 24-7 via email.
Least that’s what I told myself.
For almost a decade, I would respond to 100s of emails everyday so that I could make my business partners happy.
It was exhausting, and I would spend upwards of 2-3 hours per day just emailing. That didn’t include the deliverables I still had on my plate to compolete.
It felt endless.
How taking a sabbatical changed my views on email
After reading “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” during my backpacking trip to Southeast Asia, I decided no more.
No more wasting away my time, my freedom, my life.
I decided I would control the situation with email, and not allow it to control me. Here is how I approach emailing today:
- Check email twice per day at set intervals
- Tag important emails as high priority to follow-up
- If an email is important that requires a detailed response, create a task in Clickup with a reminder
- Any junk or spam gets blocked immediately (out of sight, out of mind)
- All other irrelevant emails goes to trash
Since changing my habits, I’ve found myself much happier and with more time to spend with my family.
I’m not constantly on my phone or laptop checking for new emails. Don’t get me wrong though, email is important. But it shouldn’t be something we’re glued to.
My favorite tools when it comes to email and being productive
I’m a huge fan of leveraging systems to build structure and good habits. Everything from email, my calendar down to my daily cleaning has a structure that keeps me productive and happy.
Here are just some of the few tools I use to keep my emails structured and in order:
- Inbox Pause: free email pause tool that lets people know you’re only checking email at specific intervals (life saver)
- Clickup: free tool to push emails into tasks, time tracking, and much more
- Toggl: Time tracking for everything
- HubSpot: email tracking, leads, and much more
- FutureMe: not so much a tool for email, but a great way to email yourself in the future with positive messages (absolutely love this tool and free too)
With these tools, I can free up my time to do other things such as go to the gym, spend time with my family and work on my personal projects.
Leverage Gmail to your advantage
When it comes to Gmail and email systems, I highly recommend creating automatic filters for incoming email and assigning labels.
For example: When a QuickBooks reporting email is sent to me, immediately create a filter for all incoming emails as “Accounting”. This exercise takes no more than 1 minute and is forever categorized.
It doesn’t have to be complex, but it should be structured enough so that when you have questions you can quickly leverage your labels in the Gmail search function.
Here’s an example below that I use for labeling:
Another thing I leverage heavily is saving emails as pdf documents into a stored drive (shown below). Really helpful for when you need to save receipts, documents and more for future reference.
As much as I love email, it’s a tool that should be leveraged to make your life easier and happier, not more stressful.
Hate those pesky coupon emails but still want them? Create a separate email handle for just those emails, and leave your personal email to friends and family.
Then leverage a tool like Windows Mail, an email aggregator, to see all your accounts in one place.
I’ve found these systems to be really helpful and has made my life much easier.