Spend less time in your inbox with these essential mindset shifts
Spend less time in your inbox with these essential mindset shifts
Grab a glass of bubbly and let’s chat about the sexiest topic in online business, the crème de la crème in communication, the exciting, can’t live without it topic of…
No? Not feelin’ the love?
You’re not alone. I remember when I just started my design business and I would hope, PRAY for an email to come through. Someone SOMEWHERE must need my services. Hitting refresh again and again just to be sure it was still working. (Not the most effective way to spend your time as a new entrepreneur I might add, but we’ll save that for a different post!)
Only to find years later that my inbox could look like something out of a horror movie after a week of being away. It’s funny what happens when we get what we ask for, huh?
You see, many entrepreneurs have a love/hate relationship with managing their inbox and for good reason. If you let it, answering email can be a giant time suck and one of the least productive things you do each day to move your business forward and actually start seeing the results you want.
BUT keeping up with your inbox can also be an amazing way to connect with your community, generate new leads, nurture those relationships, communicate with your team, and ultimately boost sales in a big way.
So how do you balance those polar opposites? Read more about how you can maintain a healthy relationship with your inbox without letting it consume your very being. Plus, these essential mindset shifts will help you create more time for the things that are most important to you without sacrificing the big results that are possible in both life and business!
Hit reply and let me know—what’s your biggest challenge when it comes to managing your inbox? I'll even reply with a personalized tip for you!
Look at your current relationship with your inbox
How much time do you spend in your inbox each day? Hours? Minutes?
Are you taking a more proactive or reactive approach to answering email?
How long can you let emails sit without a response?
Is reaching the much-touted “inbox zero” important to you or does that little number in bold make no difference at all?
These may seem like simple questions, but it can take a bit of mindset work to find a relationship with your inbox that feels good to you rather than feeling scattered, overwhelmed, or constantly behind. Because I see WAY too many business owners spending WAY too much time in their inbox, when they could be using that time and energy on the RIGHT actions that will actually generate more leads and result in more sales.
Here’s yet another reason why this mindset work is so important:
When your goal is to get more clients but the idea of opening your inbox causes you to squirm because of all that awaits you there... You’re already feeling resistance around the very action that will yield the result you want. See how that’s a challenge? Shifting those thoughts around email so that it’s easier to get in, get out, and love the results can be such a game-changer because it allows things (like leads, clients, and money!) to flow more easily in your business.
But believe me, it’s not just email either. I had a Future You client recently who had a lot of resistance around paying herself. She didn’t like who she was banking with. She didn’t know how much she should be withdrawing. She didn’t have a set system in place, so the whole thing felt messy and scattered. And I probably don’t have to remind you that messy and scattered doesn’t always yield the best results.
When we were able to shift her mindset around what it would mean to pay herself and talk about the more practical actions she could take to create a process she felt good about, well you better believe that money started flowing in a lot easier. And the same is true for email. If you want more leads, but you’re annoyed every time someone emails you... well, that’s probably a good place to start.
Don’t get too hung up on the tools
I always tell my Future You clients that it’s not about the tool, it’s about the MINDSET behind the tool. And truly, it is. Too many business owners get caught up in finding the “perfect” tool for email, project management, or just about anything else in biz. They’re on the hunt for something that ticks all the boxes and will make their life SO MUCH easier. And don’t get me wrong, I like great tools just as much as the next girl. But the challenge lies in spending too much time toiling away, looking for something “perfect” when in actuality that hunt is the very same thing that’s allowing them to hide from the “real” problem—that they aren’t comfortable getting visible, hopping on sales calls, or whatever else would yield MORE results.
Maybe you’re more of an Outlook kinda gal when it comes to email. Or maybe Mac Mail works just fine for you (hey, I’m not here to judge!). Don’t settle for an app just because it came with your computer and conversely, don’t spend so long hunting for something with every feature under the sun (because honestly it may not even exist!). Find a program that fits you “well enough” and you’ll save time overall, freeing up space for connection, communication, and income generating activities in the long run.
But I do recommend finding an email client that you actually LIKE using. I used to use the normal Mail app on my iMac before signing up for GSuite for my business (basically Gmail for businesses). And that was the day that everything changed… Kidding—all that changed was my mindset behind it, because when I actually LIKED the product I was using, I wanted to show up for it. I love that I can access my email from anywhere with a simple login and that the user interface will always be the same. I feel more “at home” in my inbox that way instead of feeling like I’m using a totally foreign platform if I’m traveling or out and about.
Look into your options, try them out, find what works best for you, and STICK WITH IT instead of constantly flip-flopping and re-learning different tools.
Look at where the majority of your time is going
So many of us write the same emails, over, and over, AND OVER AGAIN. And it makes sense right? If you’ve honed in on your messaging, know your core offers, and have streamlined your process, like many of my Future You clients have, it makes sense that the majority of your people need similar information. But it also won’t come as a surprise that there’s a way to simplify and streamline this… drumroll, please…
Canned responses. I love “canned responses” for emails, which are basically email templates of responses that I write most frequently. I have a plugin that does this easily in Gmail, but I know that my CRM platform, Dubsado, also does this seamlessly, saving me SO MUCH time in the long run. Because truly, your time is better spent just about ANYWHERE else in your life and business than emailing a client a sweet response with your scheduling link for the millionth time. 😉
I’d be willing to bet most of you don’t even KNOW how much time you spend answering emails. For many, it’s a never-ending ping-pong throughout the day. And while some professions require that kind of urgent response rate, many of us aren’t saving lives with our emails. So rather than keeping your inbox open all day long, dedicate specific hours to reading and responding. Maybe it’s first thing in the morning and then again at the end of the day. Or maybe it’s a one-hour block mid-day.
So instead of spending two hours throughout the day tackling emails (because let’s face it—switching gears from one task to another almost always takes more time) you can likely get it down to 45 minutes at the beginning of the day and 45 at the end. And hey, maybe use that extra half hour to finally finish reading Big Magic instead (one of my faves!). You’ll begin to notice how much time email is actually consuming in your day and you won’t feel as though you’re being pulled in a million different directions with each email that comes through. Thus making the time you actually spend IN your inbox more focused and productive.
Set clear expectations
If you’re panicking at the thought of not responding to email immediately it might be time to set some clear expectations with your clients and your inbox. Auto-responders can be a great way to do this. My friend, Camille Farey was nice enough to share her email autoresponder with us so you can get a better idea of how this could look in your own business:
Thanks for your email. This is an automatic reply to let you know that I've received your note and will be in touch soon.
If we're currently working on a project together, you can expect a reply within 24 hours. All other inquiries will be answered within 48 hours. As a friendly reminder, response times exclude evenings, weekends, and national holidays in the US.
I love it because it’s super professional and it tells you exactly when you can expect a response.
Likewise, my friend Sarah Magidoff at Canopy has this note in the footer of her email responses:
In effort to increase efficiency, I will be checking email twice daily. For time-sensitive matters, please reach me by phone or text.
BEAUTIFUL. She clearly states her boundaries and gives clients another option for contacting her in an “emergency.” I love that it really makes clients question if this is a time-sensitive matter before calling or texting.
Personally, I’ve always found that putting my office hours and an expected response time in my client contract is enough to put clients at ease and sets expectations for both sides. Because remember, clients can’t respect your boundaries if they don’t know what they are!
Keep it tidy
Your inbox doesn’t have to be… let me rephrase… SHOULDN’T BE another source of overwhelm. But with all the different ways that you can simplify and streamline, it can be hard to know where to start or what the “right” way to stay organized is. When my Future You clients are feeling this way, I always recommend solving the challenge that’s most pressing, rather than trying to clean up everything all at once.
For example, If you’re feeling like your inbox is just too full and managing it seems impossible for you, take a closer look at the kinds of emails you’re actually sending and receiving. If client or team communication is the bulk of it, you may want to consider moving that to a different platform like Slack, Asana, Dubsado or Basecamp to keep all of that communication in one place. That way you can move forward on essential tasks and communicate quickly without the lag-time of email.
If your personal and business emails are commingled and you’re spending a good amount of time sorting between the two, it may be time to move that over to a separate email account or address. I tend to think it looks more professional to have a work email that uses your website’s domain name (firstname.lastname@example.org) rather than you AIM screen name from back in the day. Plus, it’s easy enough to set up with most email clients and some help from the Google machine and you won’t have to sift through your Target promos to find that one client email that needs a response.
Personally, I think of my inbox as the purgatory for emails. No email wants to be in the inbox. It means it’s sitting there...waiting. I use folders like it’s my job. (I guess it kinda is my job??) For me that means creating folders and subfolders within Gmail. For example: Clients / Client Name or Newsletters / Newsletter Name or just a general Inquiries folder. So my process looks something like this: read > respond or delete > folder away emails that need saving. This process also makes it a lot easier to search and reference emails later on if I need to. I bet about half of you are reading this going, “but I already do that” and the other half have just had their mind blown because it takes you FOREVER to sift through and find that email you’re looking for.
No matter exactly HOW you choose to simplify and streamline, less time chasing things down in your inbox means more time to create the results you actually WANT in your business.
Let go. Let it gooooo...
Are there times when an email that isn’t urgent sits in my inbox longer than I’d like before receiving a response? Definitely. But I don’t think there’s an entrepreneur out there that will tell you that they got into business doing what they love so they could spend their days answering email. So don’t beat yourself up for emails awaiting a response—they’ll still be there tomorrow.
The bottom line:
Email can be a powerful tool for connecting, but it can also be extremely draining. Start noticing your relationship with your inbox and applying a few of these mindset shifts to keep your time responding to emails to a minimum and have more time for just about everything you’d rather be doing—planning that mastermind group, binging This is Us, hanging with your little ones, or getting outside for some sunshine. But if email is simply one of many areas you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed, then you’re absolutely going to want to join me for my FREE Stressed to Success coaching call.
During this 30-minute mindset and strategy session, I’ll help you uncover the mindset shift that will make the biggest difference for you, so you can start taking the RIGHT ACTIONS consistently and start saying “no” to the things that aren’t bringing in results. PLUS, we’ll develop a plan specific to you, so you’ll walk away knowing exactly how you can start putting those actions into place TODAY.
As an entrepreneur who has built two businesses from the ground up all while having a thriving life, I can tell you that growing a business, whether that means tackling your inbox or something else entirely, doesn’t have to FEEL hard. You can create a life AND business you find profitable and fulfilling, and it all starts with the right mindset.
→ Get to the root of why you're feeling feel stressed and overwhelmed
→ Talk about the core MINDSET shift that is going to change absolutely everything for you, so you feel lighter, empowered, and ready to start making bank
→ Go deep on what’s working, what isn’t, and the one right action you can take this WEEK to start getting that first or next client
Tell me in the comments below:
What is your favorite tip for keeping your time in your inbox to a minimum?
Photography by Jennifer Morgan Photography