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My clients are mostly small business owners or entrepreneurs – and every one of them is busy. It doesn’t surprise me to see them juggling client projects, managing employees, maintaining bookkeeping and finding time for their families. What does surprise me is that they’re able to – just barely – stay on top of their lives despite overstuffed, unsorted email inboxes.
Email is perhaps the most valuable tool for productivity of the digital age, but it takes some planning and commitment to get the most out of it. I give these folks a few simple tips to help them stay focused an productive by staying on top of their email, specifically Gmail.
If it’s been some time since you’ve had a clear inbox, you might not realize why it’s such a powerful tool. Your email can be a second brain – with all your important contacts, figures, addresses close at hand. Just like it’s hard to find an important paper on a cluttered desk, an overstuffed inbox makes it much harder to locate specific information. All of your incoming mail – from proposal requests to calendar invites have a place of their own.
Ultimately, an unmanageable inbox makes you look unprofessional – adding to the time it takes to locate information, respond to clients and vendors, and distracting from the work you really want to do. Fortunately, it’s possible to take back your inbox in a single, intervention-style session, and with a few simple guidelines, you can keep that inbox organized and effective.