How I Finally Got Control Of My Inbox

If you readers are anything like me, you love to follow bloggers, vloggers, authors, all sorts of content creators and let’s not forget your favourite clothing and homewares stores.

With that following comes email subscriptions in the form of daily posts, weekly newsletters, sales emails, ecourses, free downloads and, subsequently, an overflowing inbox.

At the end of 2016, I was getting all sorts of ‘goal-setting for the new year’ emails, as well as reminders for all the online holiday sales and, with a busy work life and planning for my own holiday season, I was feeling quite ill every time I opened my inbox.

I had heard about unroll.me a few times but after chatting about it with Paige at Healthy Hits the Spot (who also uses it) she tipped me over the edge… and I haven’t looked back.

Step 1. Let them count how many subscriptions you have…

You sign up to the unroll.me service and they count how many subscriptions you have sent to your email address. I came in at a whopping 70 subscriptions. No wonder I was feeling ill.

Step 2. Unsubscribe

I then went through and ditched all the ones I either never read or never even knew I was subscribed to. Bye bye 32 subscriptions - and the sick feeling was starting to fade.

Step 3. Roll up!

This is the best part. You can roll your email subscriptions into a daily digest (or ‘rollup’) that you receive at a specific time of day (I get mine around 7am each morning).

You can then read all your emails in the same place at the same time. And more importantly you don’t have to open and read the ones you don’t have interest in that particularly day.

Step 4. Keep your favourites in your inbox

I do have some subscriptions I like to still receive as regular emails, either so I never miss them or because I like the format they come in, so you can opt to do that too.

Step 5. And breathe...

Let me know if you’ve found a way to manage your email subscriptions or if you try unroll.me, let me know what you think!

 

How I Manage My Email Inbox

I’ve had lots of requests to write time management posts here on the blog, and one of the biggest ways I manage my time is by managing my email.

I’m not perfect.

I’ve suffered that sinking feeling when you leave a meeting, only to see you have 32 new emails that weren’t there an hour ago.

I’ve woken at 5am and thought ‘I’ll just take a quick peek at what happened overnight’ then lay awake anxious about the day ahead.

But it’s all a mind game. You are in control of your reaction to email and you are in control of how you manage it.

These tips may not be ground-breaking but they’ve served me well as I’ve navigated through what we all have to navigate - a busy work and personal life.

Compartmentalise your day

The quickest way for me to leave work without having achieved anything is to sit on my email all day. As soon as I reply to one, the next comes in and I’m jumping all over the place, all day long.

I don’t have strict rules as to when I check email but I do make sure once I’m working on a task that I don’t flick back to my email client out of habit and lose focus.

Lately I’ve been trying to work on projects in time blocks or Pomodoros (a la the Productivity Planner). I work on the tasks, but I may also review and reply to emails related to that project specifically. This saves me feeling overwhelmed by the number of emails awaiting my response.

Acknowledge receipt

I work mostly with clients but I think this tip applies to coworkers and family and friends too.

A quick email to say you’ve received their note and will get back to them soon / tomorrow / next week will:

  1. Make them feel heard and let them know you’re onto it.
  2. Make you feel better as you’re not staring at a stack of unanswered emails feeling guilty.

File file file

Get emails out of your inbox. It’s so satisfying to file emails as they are dealt with and to watch that inbox number shrink.

I used to try and keep my email inbox to around 20 emails but unfortunately these days it’s more like 50.

Either way, pick a number to work towards to avoid your inbox spiraling out of your control.

Unsubscribe

Ah, the sweet pleasure of unsubscribe.

As we all go down the rabbit hole of news sites, blogs, digital product offerings and so on, it’s easy to hand over your email address in order to receive a freebie, a newsletter or regular updates from a site.

But sure enough within a month you’re deleting those emails without reading them or wondering how the hell you’re receiving them in the first place.

I have a few that I love to receive (I'm looking at you Jess Lively, Laura Vanderkam and Paige Schmidt) but most of the others just end up annoying me or adding to the feeling of overwhelm.

For me, every time I take a holiday I go through my emails and unsubscribe from all the stuff I’m not reading. Try it now!

How do you manage email? What’s your favourite tip I’ve given?

 

Time Management Series: Make The Most Of Your Commute

 
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Ever get to about Thursday and wish you could add a few more days to the week?

Running out of time to get tasks done at work, adding to the running grocery list in your phone, hearing about another TV show/book/podcast/restaurant recommendation from a friend - the time struggle is real.

Where The Light Plays wants to help out. I’ll share a monthly time management post on how to claw some precious minutes back in the day. Today, we’re looking at the power of the commute. And if you work for yourself or from home, thank your lucky stars!

Audio books

This is one area I personally feel a fair amount of guilt. I have so many books I want to read - from classics to personal development titles, my bookshelves and Kindle are rammed with unread tomes.

Enter the audio book. Once you get over the number of hours it will take to listen to the book (up to 20+hours anyone?) plug your headphones in and get on with your commute.

I do find super detailed and in-depth books can be a little difficult to listen to via audio - we all have to focus to cross the road or step on the train, so sometimes I miss important details. But it’s a great way to get consuming literature. My favourite so far? Animal Farm by George Orwell.

And for those more detailed books? Stick your current read in your tote bag and you’ll be amazed how much you can get through either on your commute or while waiting at various points throughout the day.

Podcasts

I am a complete podcast junky. I know which days my favourite podcasts are coming out through the week and make sure they’re in my phone before I walk out the door in the morning. They are great when you’re commuting, if you walk at lunchtime (do it!) or even at the gym as a good distraction from the pain of lifting weights. My favourites are:

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Emails

In line with my discussion on eating frogs, getting into work and being consumed by email can leave you achieving very little of what you set out to complete for the day.

My solution when I know I’m drowning in email? Check them on the train - file those you don’t need to respond to, respond quickly to those that you can and flag any that need your attention, preferably later in the day. Then when you arrive, you can get straight on to your to do list for the day and know emails are somewhat taken care of. The theory of ignoring email until later in the day terrifies me so this is my happy medium.

Phone calls

Last year, I finally upgraded my first car. I was skyrocketed from the early ‘90s to the mid-’10s and the world of bluetooth. “Oooh” I hear you say. OK, I was a little behind.

I love it! When I’m driving to work, or to see a client, or to visit friends on the weekend, I make some phone calls. I know it’s not as common anymore but calling someone for a chat cuts through the social media and reams of text messages, and usually leaves me in a better mood.

How do you make the most of your commute?

And as part of the new series, in what area do you need the most time management help?