24 March 2021

Coffee and Filters

Coffee, emails about upcoming sales, and Google search results. What do these three things have in common? They’re all things that can be filtered!

I recently worked with a client who subscribed to a lot of mailing lists. Lists for continuing education courses, lists for sales and promotions, and lists for professional chatter (forum activity). She received so many of these emails that her action item emails were getting lost in the mess. Because she didn’t want to unsubscribe – but didn’t need to see these emails right away – filters were the best answer.

Filters allow you to take a specific type of email – from a certain person or company –  and have it skip the inbox, going instead into a designated folder. The email is still there and marked as unread, but it isn’t competing with more urgent action emails in your inbox.

Each email system has its own method of setting up filters or rules as they are sometimes called. It takes a little bit of work on the front end to set up filters, but the resulting increase in productivity makes it worthwhile. Once you have those relevant but not urgent emails in their own folder, you can read them when you are ready. 

If you are a Gmail user, your email may already be doing some of this if you utilize the multi-tab – Priority, Social, Updates, Promotions, and Forums – approach. 

If you need help setting up your email filters, let’s talk! Schedule a Discovery Call and together we’ll figure out the best approach. 

3 March 2021

Is There Mystery Meat in Your Inbox?

I picked up canned cat food at the store the other day. Looking at the shelf it always seems there is at least one can, if not a couple, that are in danger of losing their paper labels. I can just imagine getting one of those cans home, then having it sit on the shelf for ages because we don’t know what flavor is inside. Could be tuna, could be salmon, or maybe even chicken. Without a label, all we know is that it’s cat food.

Email subject lines are the same way. We’ve all seen those emails that hit our inbox and say ‘Zoom’ or ‘Deadline’ or even ‘Don’t forget’. At a glance how are we supposed to know what’s actually inside those emails until we take a moment and open them up to look? And every time we go to our email we have to open that message up again because there are no clues as to what is inside. Just like that mystery meat cat food.

That’s why I’m a big proponent of descriptive subject lines in your email.  They allow you to quickly prioritize and categorize an email, letting you get back to your day that much faster. I’m talking about subject lines like ‘Zoom meeting at 7?’ or ‘Miller project deadline extended to Feb’ or even ‘Don’t forget to feed the fish’. See the difference?

I know you can’t control what other people put in their subject lines, that’s true. But who was it that said ‘be the change you wish to see in the world’? Don’t forget either, that you can sometimes change the subject line of an email before you return it. Help avoid the mystery meat emails!

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26 January 2021

Bing! You’ve Got Mail!

I visited my nieces recently. The 4 year old likes to play dolls and was thrilled about having a new playmate around. However, it was ‘Play!’ every five minutes we weren’t actively engaged in playtime. No time for auntie to read a book or watch TV. No, it was all play all the time.

Email can be like that too. When you’ve got notifications on your phone or computer, every time you get a new email there’s a little ‘bing’ that goes off and demands your attention. No time for getting anything else done when you’ve got email tugging at your attention. Kind of like a toddler tugging at your pants.

So what should you do? Turn off your email notifications! Both on your phone and on the computer. Don’t let email dictate your life. Set aside specific times during the day to check email and use the rest of the time to focus on other work. It can take some time to get used to, but your productivity will thank you.

Are you interested in detoxing your inbox? I’ve got a plan for that! Sign up today for a Discovery Conversation and we’ll talk about how to get your email under control.

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13 June 2019

Why Inbox Zero Worries is better than Inbox Zero

You’ve heard of Inbox Zero, right?

It’s the philosophy of getting your email inbox all cleaned out, zero emails. It’s a great goal, one that a lot of people strive for. Strive and then are disappointed when they can’t reach it. Because to be honest, I think Inbox Zero isn’t realistic for the majority of us.

Picture this. You work and work and work and finally achieve the holy grail of Inbox Zero. You step away from the computer to get a celebratory drink of something tasty and when you return…you have four new emails.

So much for Inbox Zero.

What if instead of trying to get down to zero emails in your inbox, you got to a place where you spent zero time worrying about email? 

Imagine this – you go to your inbox and find a handful of new emails. 
Two minutes later you’ve got them sorted, filed, and ready to be followed up with. You check your Waiting folder to see who is still outstanding, then continue on with your workday. No more worrying about emails getting lost below the fold. No more stressing, wondering if you actually followed up with someone.

Zero worries. Carefree as a child.

It can happen!

If you’re ready to stop worrying about your email and start enjoying the time you’ve reclaimed, Ilios Digital can get you there. Schedule your Discovery Call today and let’s take you to Inbox Zero Worries!

6 June 2019

Delayed Decisions Lead to Clutter

My husband takes off his socks at night when we’re sitting in the living room playing on our computers and pretending to watch TV.  No big deal, right? Except for the next three days, both of us will walk past those lonely white socks four or five times a day and still, the socks stay where they fell.

Email is like this too. We get a new action email, read it – and decide it would only take a few minutes to complete – then leave it in our inbox while we wander off to do something else. We come back to our email how many times a day, re-read that action message, but still leave it undone until ‘later’. Well, later comes with twenty other action emails waiting for your attention. 

What would have happened if you had taken 2 minutes to respond to the email instead of putting it off till later? Probably the same thing that would have happened if my husband had taken 2 minutes to pick up his socks and put them away.

Less clutter.

Our delayed decisions lead to clutter – both in your inbox and in your living room. David Allen of Getting Things Done says if you have a task that will only take a couple of minutes, you should complete the task then, don’t put it off till ‘later’. Doing those two-minute tasks right away is another way to keep your inbox under control. Sure, some action emails require more effort but don’t ignore those two-minute tasks. 

Too many emails to tackle on your own? Let me know! Ilios Digital Organizing offers an Inbox Detox program that can get you back on track.

30 May 2019

The ART of Email Management – Next Steps

If you’ve been hanging out with me for any amount of time you’ve probably heard me talk about the A.R.T of email management. It’s my key to putting out inbox fires. Kind of like stop, drop, and roll is for regular fires!

The A.R.T. theory can be explained as such: all email is either an Action item, a Reference item, or a Trash item. When you open up your inbox and its full of messages, take a quick moment to decide – what type of message is this? The answer will tell you what to do with it. 

Trash emails are just what you’d expect – spam, coupons and ads, and those networking newsletters. You know the ones. You can’t unsubscribe because you might hurt someone’s feelings, but you have no interest in the contents. Hit the delete button the first time you encounter these trash emails. Don’t waste time going back and re-reading them a second time. 

The best way to stay on top of your inbox? Be diligent about making a choice the first time you read an email. Decide right away, action email or not? If not an action email, then reference email or trash? Move the email to the correct folder and go to the next email on the list. Clutter is delayed decisions, and the more times you delay acting, the more your email is going to pile up. 

Need one on one help with your email? Ilios Digital Organizing can help!